Chairman urges BBC

The chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, has called on the BBC to exercise a ‘degree of commercial caution’and be a ‘good corporate neighbour’to the rest of the UK’s media.

In his introduction to the Trust’s annual report, Sir Michael wrote that ‘co-operation with other media providers – which implies a degree of commercial caution by the BBC – may provide a better way of protecting long-term audience interests than increased regulation”.

An independent report, carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the Trust to examine the impact of the BBC on the wider UK economy, is due to be completed later this month, the trustees said.

The report will examine the wider media market at national and regional level, and look at the BBC’s impact on quality, commissioning from independent producers, its impact on content and training, and its development of new technologies.

The report is intended to inform debate on the impact of the BBC and inform its judgements about future BBC priorities and investment decisions.

One of the most closely-watched areas will be the BBC executive’s plan for introducing local video services.

Early next month, the Trust will conclude its consultation on the BBC executive’s plan for local video services.

Fall in complaints

The BBC received 123,529 complaints about its editorial output in 2007/08, a figure down slightly from the previous year.

The independent body that handles more serious complaints about the BBC’s editorial output, The Editorial Complaints Unit, received 270 complaints in 2007/08, up from 187 the previous year. It upheld 47 complaints in full or in part.

The Editorial Standards Committee heard 57 appeals of the unit’s decisions. It upheld only nine in full or in part and rejected 47.

Increased reach

The BBC Trust also noted that BBC News was successfully maintaining its reach.

According to the executive’s report, the reach of BBC News’ increased slightly in the year to March. The report found:

  • More than 80 per cent of the UK population aged 15 and over used a BBC News service, with 52.1 per cent listening to radio news each week, a slight increase from 2006/07.
  • The rebranded rolling news channel BBC News helped viewing figures increase 21 per cent year on year. Some 4.2 million people watched for at least 15 minutes each week.
  • The BBC World Service estimated its global audience at 182 million, down slightly from last year’s estimate of 183 million.
  • International-facing news websites had 42.5 million unique users and 808 million page impressions in March, up 10 per cent from 38.5 million users and 763 million impressions in March 2007.

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