The BBC has made significant improvements to the coverage of the devolved nations in its network news and current affairs programmes, the BBC Trust claimed today.
The Trust said the proportion of news items referring to the devolved nations has almost doubled on the BBC since it conducted a similar study two years ago which highlighted shortcomings in the corporation’s reporting on devolution.
Cardiff School of Journalism, commissioned by the Trust for its latest survey, found the number of references to the devolved nations increasing from 71 in the previous study to 480 over the course of four weeks of BBC News coverage in October and November last year.
The Trust said the research showed that the number of news items making a comparison between the policies of devolved nations has doubled on the BBC and that there had been a significant increase in television reporting from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Richard Tait, chairman of the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee, said: ‘The Trust is clear that the BBC should serve all audiences, and licence fee payers themselves tell us they want to know more about what’s going on in the nations and regions of the UK.
‘As a result of the recommendations we made in 2008, the Trust is pleased that audiences are now seeing more stories about the devolved nations on the BBC – and stories that more accurately reflect the key issues in these areas.”
Despite a number of improvements the Trust said the BBC was still falling short in some areas as a number of network news items still didn’t make it clear which part of the UK to which they were referring.
In addition, the Trust said there was still a ‘continued bias’in favour of stories about England in some subject areas.
In the sample period the research suggested that out of 112 BBC News items about health and education, 104 related to England and eight to the other three nations. In the same period all news stories about the arts and policing related only to England.