some default text...
Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Second Report


Statement by the BBC Board of Governors

  Following extensive consultation over the past six months, the BBC Board of Governors today (10 December) approved the BBC's programme response to devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  The response involves new BBC investment of more than £20 million per annum across the three nations—£10 million in Scotland, £6 million in Wales and £5 million in Northern Ireland. An estimated 120 new jobs will be created overall—50 in Scotland, 40 in Wales and 30 in Northern Ireland.

  The Governors recognise the far-reaching significance of the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, National Assembly of Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly.

  "The BBC is responding to the challenge of devolution with a comprehensive package of programmes designed to report the new institutions and examine their impact, ensuring that news accurately reflects the realities of the new structures and remains relevant to audiences wherever they live. The BBC also intends to ensure that the whole UK audience keeps in touch with developments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and that audiences in the Nations continue to have access to a comprehensive service of UK news," the Governors said.

  They approved proposals including a 10 point plan:

    1.  Full coverage of the Parliament and the Assemblies on Television, Radio, Online and BBC Parliament, the BBC's new parliamentary channel on cable and satellite. BBC coverage will include daily programmes of record and coverage of live debates on BBC Radio Scotland, Radio Wales, Radio Ulster, Radio Nan Gaidheal and Radio Cymru as well as on Yesterday in Parliament and Westminster Live.

    2.  A new approach to The Evening News Hour at 6.00pm on BBC One which contains—for the whole of the United Kingdom—a Six O'Clock News that gives a comprehensive daily account of developments across the UK, reporting on not one but four democratic institutions, and a full service of international news. The production of this programme will be based on full collaboration with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland newsrooms. The Evening News Hour will also contain and reinforce dedicated reporting for each of the Nations and the regions of England, incorporating Reporting Scotland, Wales Today and Newsline 6.30.

    3.  New late night news programmes edited and produced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as opt outs from Newsnight on BBC Two at 11.00pm, offering a news summary and, in Scotland, a nightly discussion to round off the news day. In Wales and Northern Ireland extended discussion will be scheduled as news developments require.

  1.  Increased investment in Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland news to meet the need for more specialist correspondents covering devolved institutions and responsibilities.

  2.  Increased investment in newsgathering resources for live coverage including a new fast response outside broadcast vehicle for Scotland.

  3.  New weekly long form current affairs journalism, with new business and discussion strands complementing Scottish Lobby, Welsh Lobby, Maniffesto and Hearts and Minds.

  4.  The development of major integrated programmes of international, UK, national and local news, edited and produced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, at 10.00pm on the new digital TV services, BBC Choice Scotland, BBC Choice Wales and BBC Choice Northern Ireland.

  5.  A major training programme for all BBC programme-makers to ensure that all understand what makes Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England different from each other and that all are sensitive to the changes which devolution brings.

  6.  The appointment of network news editors in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure close co-operation between BBC journalists across the UK.

  7.  The commitment of additional development funds to build the production of programmes made in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for the BBC Television and Radio networks.

  A summary of these proposals is attached to this statement.

  "These proposals reflect a real advance on those originally put forward by BBC management, following the detailed discussions we have had over the last few months and our consultations with the Broadcasting Councils," the Governors said.

  "Work will now proceed quickly on the implementation of this package in the build up to the start of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly—in particular, to ensure that 6.00pm - 7.00pm on BBC One has a genuinely UK feel—providing an accurate and comprehensive service of international, UK, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Ireland and English news, taking proper account of the new institutions. It must be seen to be different, to compete effectively with ITV and always to be relevant to its audiences.

  "We have full confidence in the BBC's journalists—whether they work in the nations or in London, in newsrooms or in the field. We look to them to deliver the best news programmes to viewers wherever in the UK they live."

  "We were strongly urged by the Broadcasting Councils for Scotland and Wales to approve arrangements which would have established opt-out integrated news programmes for Scotland and Wales in place of the Six O'Clock News and Reporting Scotland and Wales Today. We gave careful consideration to their arguments and were impressed by the force with which they were put forward. However, we believe The Evening News Hour will better serve audiences across the UK. We will be setting out our detailed reasons in a booklet Devolution: The BBC's Programme Response to be published shortly. In summary, we are convinced that the BBC can and must provide a news service which serves audiences in all four Nations of the UK but which also reflects the four Nations to each other as part of the United Kingdom.

  "The Board, while believing its proposals are appropriate at this stage of the UK's development, does not say that integrated 6.00pm news programmes for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could never be justified. We do say that it depends on developments on a number of fronts, in particular:

    —  the performance of the new programmes in terms of their journalism and audience appreciation

    —  the impact of digital television services and the speed of take up of the digital option

    —  the competitive position

    —  the movement of audience attitudes towards the BBC and its programmes

    —  how the Parliament works in practice and the impact it makes in terms of news

    —  the pace of further constitutional change

  All these factors will be assessed as part of a comprehensive programme of review and research."

  The Board agreed a timetable for implementing these measures including sensitivity training and new arrangements for editorial co-operation. The Board will monitor the implementation of these measures against clear milestones. The Board agreed quarterly monitoring leading to a full review of the BBC's programme response to devolution a year after the programmes are in place, ie in May 2000.

  The Board will continue to consult the Broadcasting Councils on the detail of the implementation of these proposals and on the review process.

  "No other broadcaster will devote the care or the resources to reporting the Parliament and the Assemblies. No other broadcaster is investing in its news operation to the extent that the BBC is doing to prepare for devolution. No other broadcaster is so committed to ensuring that the whole UK audience can keep abreast of the exciting developments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

SUMMARY OF THE BBC'S PROGRAMME RESPONSE TO DEVOLUTION IN WALES

  1.  Coverage of Welsh Assembly:

    —  Daily record of proceedings on Radio Wales and Radio Cymru

    —  Twice-weekly live TV coverage in place of Westminster Live

    —  Live coverage of ceremonial occasions and other key events

    —  New Assembly reporting unit to be created alongside Assembly building.

  2.  Enhanced News Coverage:

    —  New nightly opt-out from Newsnight at 23.00, edited and produced in Wales

    —  Enhanced version of six to seven news hour with additional opts and "seamless format"

    —  A new Welsh News On-line site in both languages

    —  Additional Welsh Ceefax pages

    —  A strengthened 10.00pm bulletin on BBC Choice Wales—of international, UK, national and local news, edited and produced in Wales

    —  Appointment of a News Editor, based in Wales, to ensure full liaison across all network news bulletins.

  3.  Extended Current Affairs Coverage:

    —  New audience-based monthly discussion programme on TV

    —  New issue based current affairs series, dealing with business, the economy and other key issues

    —  Extended run of weekly political programmes on TV

    —  Additional weekly output for S4C

    —  New weekly political programme on BBC Choice Wales.

  4.  Strengthened Newsgathering:

    —  A strengthened newsgathering team including more specialist correspondents and regionally based reporters

    Total additional investment in Wales (including support costs): £6 million

    Estimated additional posts (production and resources): 40 posts.

  5.  National production

    —  The creation of development teams to build production in a range of programme genres for network TV and radio.

SUMMARY OF THE BBC'S PROGRAMME RESPONSE TO DEVOLUTION IN SCOTLAND

  1.  Coverage of the Scottish Parliament:

    —  Daily programme of record on Radio Scotland

    —  Weekly review in Gaelic on Radio Nan Gaidheal

    —  Live TV coverage of proceedings on Tuesdays and Thursdays (in place of Westminster Live)

    —  Live coverage of TV and Radio of significant debates and ceremonial occasions

    —  Occasional opt-outs to replace editions of On the Record where content is of limited relevance to Scottish audience

    —  New Parliamentary Programmes Unit to be set up adjacent to Parliament building.

  2.  Enhanced Daily News Coverage:

    —  New 20 minute nightly opt-out from Newsnight at 23.00 edited and produced in Scotland

    —  Enhanced version of six to seven news hour with additional opts and "seamless format"

    —  A new Scottish News On-line site

    —  Additional Scottish Ceefax pages

    —  Enhanced news on BBC Choice Scotland, built around a strengthened 10pm bulletin of international, UK, national and local news, edited and produced in Scotland and including political coverage

    —  New Satellite OB truck

    —  Appointment of a News Editor, based in Scotland, to ensure full liaison across all network news bulletins.

  3.  Extended Current Affairs Coverage:

    —  A new weekly current affairs programme Newsweek Scotland

    —  Increased programming on BBC One Scotland and Radio Scotland taking a fresh new approach to debating current issues.

  4.  Strengthened Newsgathering:

    —  A strengthened newsgathering team including more specialist correspondents and regionally based reporters

    Total additional investment in Scotland (including support costs): £10 million

    Estimated additional posts (production and resources): 50 posts.

  5.  National production

    —  The creation of development teams to build production in a range of programme genres for network TV and radio.

SUMMARY OF THE BBC'S PROGRAMME RESPONSE TO DEVOLUTION IN NORTHERN IRELAND

  1.  Coverage of the Northern Ireland Assembly:

    —  Daily record of proceedings on Radio Ulster

    —  Twice-weekly live TV coverage in place of Westminster Live

    —  Live coverage of significant occasions and State of Nation address.

  2.  Enhanced News Coverage:

    —  New eight minute nightly opt-out from Newsnight at 23.00 edited and produced in Northern Ireland

    —  Enhanced version of six to seven news hour with additional opts and "seamless format"

    —  A new Northern Ireland News On-line site

    —  Additional Northern Ireland Ceefax pages

    —  A strengthened 10.00pm bulletin on BBC Choice Northern Ireland—of international, UK, national and local news, edited and produced in Northern Ireland

    —  Appointment of a News Editor, based in Northern Ireland, to ensure full liaison across all network news bulletins.

  3.  Extended Current Affairs Coverage:

    —  Let's Talk becomes audience-based monthly discussion programme

    —  New weekly political programme on BBC Choice Northern Ireland.

  4.  Strengthened Newsgathering:

    —  A strengthened newsgathering team including more specialist correspondents and regionally based reporters

    Total additional investment in N. Ireland (including support costs): £5 million

    Estimated additional posts (production and resources): 30 posts

  5.  National production

    —  The creation of development teams to build production in a range of programme genres for network TV and radio.

10 December 1999


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared 11 May 1999