BBC Trust finds news output 'distant' from some viewers' lives
Editor | 30-04-2014
Even though BBC News remains highly regarded and trusted, it needs to act to maintain its reputation with audiences, the body responsible for best usage of the Licence Fee has found.

According to a review by the BBC Trust, audiences do actually think the BBC does significantly better than other news providers in providing up-to-date news, being easy to understand, giving in-depth coverage, having expert reporters and covering a wide range of stories. Four out of five UK adults watch, read or listen to BBC News each week, with BBC TV news alone watched by two-thirds of adults.

However, the review also identified what it called a concern that younger audiences' use of broadcast news is continuing to decline, and that there was a risk that they may not turn to the BBC as they get older, as has traditionally been the case. Indeed, some audiences said that BBC News can feel 'distant' from their lives in editorial agenda and tone, and there are increased expectations about what BBC News Online should be delivering.

For example, the BBC's current affairs programming was seen as being of high quality and keeping audiences informed of issues, but they rate it less well for offering fresh perspectives and covering issues that other channels would not, and audience awareness of the different current affairs programmes is low.

"The challenges faced by BBC News in retaining its audiences and its reputation are by no means unique to the BBC, but the corporation's obligation to serve everyone means it must do better than other broadcasters," said BBC Trustee Richard Ayre, commenting on the report. "Though news and current affairs are performing extremely well, the issues we've asked the BBC to address will help them to keep pace with changing audiences and unprecedented technological shifts. None of this is about radical or sudden changes in editorial direction, it's simply ensuring the BBC is fleet of foot in responding to the challenges ahead."

In response to its finding, the BBC Trust has set out a number of actions for the BBC Executive, including developing its online and mobile news provision so that it remains relevant for audiences in a rapidly-changing market; broadening the agenda and tone of BBC News to address audience concerns such as making more use of regional and local reporters on national network news; increasing the impact of its current affairs output, with commissioning decisions driven by the significance and relevance of the subject matter and the insight offered to audiences; and ensuring that a wider range of international stories are available to audiences in the UK, making better use of the scale of the BBC's foreign newsgathering resources.