It may have gone un-noticed by most of the general public and some of our members, but the Government’s Mid-Term Review of the BBC has now been completed and its Report, including conclusions and recommendations was published last month.  The Terms of Reference were published in 2022 and covered six areas;  editorial standards and impartiality; complaints; competition and market impact; commercial governance and regulation; diversity and transparency.  The two main areas of concern which have emerged are impartiality and the complaints procedures.  In its Executive Summary it states

“There are contrasting views and evidence for changes in trust, with some surveys showing a decline and others a recent increase. Ofcom has also concluded impartiality is still consistently rated lower than trust and accuracy by audiences for the BBC website, app and television and that whilst people in the UK value the role the BBC plays in news provision, impartiality is one of the areas where the BBC is perceived less favourably compared to other aspects of news delivery, with perceptions of impartiality not changing over the past year. It is therefore crucial that the BBC demonstrates clearly to audiences that it takes its responsibilities seriously and continues to focus on impartiality, within a culture of continuous improvement, to maintain audience trust”.

 

Regarding complaints to the BBC, the Exec Summary noted that “the BBC’s complaints process did enable licence fee payers to hold the BBC directly accountable” but “impartiality continues to be an ongoing issue for audiences”, as does a “lack of public confidence in the way the BBC currently handles complaints”.  Some of the context of this statement was provided by Ofcom who reported that they received 918 complaints about BBC impartiality last year, accounting for 39% of all the grievances it received about the broadcaster, and an increase on the 594 bias complaints it received in 2021-22, which equated to 19% of the total.

The BBC has responded to the publication of the Mid-Term Review as follows:-

“The Mid-Term Review was designed to look at the BBC’s governance and regulation. We’re pleased the Government’s findings reflect that overall these are working well”.

“With regard to the BBC’s impartiality, no other organisation takes its commitment to impartiality more seriously. We have well-established and detailed plans to sustain and further improve standards. We know this matters to audiences and the BBC continues to be the number one source for trusted news, with the highest scores for impartiality and accuracy”.

There has been criticism of the Mid-Term Review and its conclusions and recommendations.  Click below to read some of those who see this as a further attack on the BBC.

 https://www.theguardian.com/media/2024/jan/22/bbc-must-adapt-or-risk-losing-trust-says-midterm-review

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2024/jan/22/downing-street-denies-having-anti-bbc-agenda-after-bias-accusations

 

Also below, links to the full BBC Statement and the link to the Government’s Mid-Term Review Report

https://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/statements/bbc-response-governments-mid-term-review

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bbc-mid-term-review-2024/summary-of-the-bbc-mid-term-review-2024#list-of-the-mtrs-conclusions-and-recommendations

Published On: February 15th, 2024 / 2.4 min read / Views: 161 /

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