BBC news coverage 'predictable' and 'one-paced' says former Sky News boss

The man who led the review into the BBC’s decision to drop Newsnight’s Jimmy Savile investigation has labelled the corporation’s news coverage “predictable” and “one-paced” with “a tendency to naivety”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show, former head of Sky News Nick Pollard said: “The principle fault is that it’s very predictable; nothing ever surprises you. You don’t get the sense that somebody has said ‘I have got a really great idea about how we might portray this story or a different way of explaining something'.”

Pollard said the BBC approached news as a “committee-driven process” and was not as “ideas driven” as its competitors, such as ITN or Sky.

He added: “There’s a slight tendency to naivety in some of the coverage, particularly its home news coverage.

“They are slightly too keen on latching on to pressure groups (or) special interest groups… it’s an emotive bit of interview or picture, but it does not necessarily explain the story.”

Pollard, who has worked at the corporation as well as at ITN and Sky, added that the BBC’s new director of news, former Times editor James Harding, could help freshen up its news coverage.

“I don’t think the fact that he has not worked in TV or broadcasting is a problem,” he said. “I think it’s an advantage.”

He also said that Harding, who took up his new role this week, should be more hands-on and chair three editorial meetings a day at the BBC for the first six months.

Pollard’s review into failings at the BBC over the Savile scandal, published last December, found that the decision to drop the investigation into the former presenter  was “flawed” but “taken in good faith”.

However, he told The Media Show how the decision had been influenced by “a particularly poisonous set of personal relationships” among staff on the programme.

He added that these relationships “coloured almost everything that went on and logical decision making went out of the window as a result of that". 

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