Ofcom to review BBC news and current affairs
March 5, 2019
UK media regulator Ofcom has detailed the scope of its review of the BBC’s news and current affairs output, which it announced in 2018.
The review will assess how well the BBC is adapting to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex news landscape, and its role as a trusted destination for audiences. It will cover the BBC’s news and current affairs output across TV, radio and online, with focus on three areas:
- Relevance: Ofcom will examine how effective the BBC is at serving all audiences, including those who typically engage with it less – and the reasons for that. Ofcom will look at the role the BBC plays in helping people understand the world around them, and how they engage with its content. Ofcom will also consider how well the BBC is placed to continue serving audiences in the future, with a changing news landscape.
- Distinctiveness and quality: Ofcom will explore audience views on how the BBC reports complex and challenging stories while maintaining the quality that audiences value. Ofcom will look at the range and depth of analysis in its news and current affairs, across all platforms, and how this compares with other UK news providers.
- Trust: Ofcom will assess how people’s views on the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC drive their trust in it. The review will not assess the BBC’s formal compliance with the ‘due impartiality’ and ‘due accuracy’ requirements of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. However, it will seek to understand more clearly the importance that viewers, listeners and readers place on the BBC’s impartiality, and whether they are satisfied that the current tools used to ensure due impartiality are effective.
As part of its review, Ofcom will examine the broader context within which BBC news online operates, and how it differentiates its content. Ofcom will also look closely at how people navigate around and between the BBC’s own website and those of other news services.
The review forms one part of Ofcom’s ongoing regulatory scrutiny of the BBC’s news and current affairs, and should be considered as part of the wider portfolio of work Ofcom undertakes in this area. Ofcom expects to publish its findings in autumn 2019, which will also inform its next annual assessment of the BBC’s overall performance.