BBC Annual Plan prioritises “bringing the nation together”

The BBC has set out its priorities for the year ahead in its newly published Annual Plan.

The far reaching plan for the next twelve months, outlines the importance of the BBC’s role in society and in tackling false information and fake news which threaten fact based public debate and trust in journalism. When the country is increasingly being portrayed as fragmented and divided, the BBC will maximise opportunities to bring the country together. This is important at a time when the UK is seeking to redefine its relationship with the world. The BBC believes it can play a vital role for Britain abroad as the cornerstone of the UK’s creative industries, and be central to the UK’s cultural influence worldwide.

The plan sets out the BBC’s creative plans for the year; how the BBC will fulfil the obligations in its Ofcom Operating Licence and its extra commitments that go further to deliver high quality distinctive content, as well as an update on the BBC’s three year strategy, the BBC’s high level budget and the BBC Board’s approach to their duties.

However the BBC faces significant challenges in delivering its mission:

  • The way audiences, particularly young audiences, consume media is changing rapidly and profoundly. The BBC must continue to respond to changes in consumption habits and reinvent itself for a new generation.
  • The media market is shifting at speed, but investment in British content across the TV industry is falling. Whilst the international media market is increasingly dominated by a small number of US-based media giants it is likely that over the next decade the total amount invested in UK content will fall. The BBC will continue to prioritise spending on content.
  • Meanwhile the BBC’s financial environment has got tougher. In the last Charter, a combination of a frozen licence fee and new obligations meant the BBC’s UK services are nearly 20% smaller in real terms than 8 years ago. There are further substantial savings to make in the years ahead alongside significant new financial challenges.

In order to respond to these issues, the Director-General has set out in the Annual plan a series of actions to respond to the changing needs of our audiences and the UK in four areas:

  • Tackling fake news and increasing polarisation. Building on the success of the School Report media literacy initiative up to 1,000 schools around the country are being offered mentoring from expert BBC journalists to help young people identify real news and filter out false information. All schools will have access to free online materials, video tutorials and interactive activities to allow students to experience being a BBC journalist in the heart of the newsroom.
  • Investing in content, new talent and new voices around the UK. The plan highlights the breadth and range of output the BBC is producing next year. It is a uniquely distinctive mix of content, with commissions that no other broadcaster would make. It draws on British talent from every part of the UK. This year will also see the biggest transformation of the BBC’s Nations services in a generation.
  • Reinventing the way we deliver our content. iPlayer remains the biggest and best place to find new British content. But iPlayer needs to change. Personalisation is now right at the heart of the design process and already 15 million people monthly sign in so that we can provide them with the tailored service they increasingly expect. This year will see further improvements for iPlayer, including enhancements to the user experience, more personalisation, more live content and we continue to look at increasing the availability of some content. We will assess for materiality where appropriate.
  • Taking the UK to the world. With state-controlled services influencing global debate and news provision, the value to democracy and liberty of the BBC’s global reach is higher than ever. The BBC World Service is undergoing its biggest expansion since the 1940s. With new Government investment the BBC now operates in more than forty languages around the world and has opened new and expanded bureaux in locations from Bangkok and Belgrade to Cairo and Kathmandu.

Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, says: “Alongside a great year of creativity, this year will see major milestones as we transform the BBC. This transformation is essential. Without it, the BBC will look increasingly analogue in a digital world, and small against giant global competition. A strong BBC can be a powerful force for the UK in years to come – championing the interests of audiences at home with trusted news and brilliant British content, and championing the values of the whole country abroad as the cornerstone of the UK’s creative strength and cultural influence.”

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