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BBC told to raise its game

Channels must 'define their respective roles'

LONDON — The BBC’s main U.K. TV networks must raise their creative bar, according to the corporation’s regulator, the BBC Trust.

Of the pubcaster’s four main local webs, the Trust said that BBC2 needed to have a clearer identity, but there was also a call for BBC1, Blighty’s must popular network, to be more ambitious.

The comments, published in the initial conclusions of the Trust’s Strategy Review, are unlikely to be welcomed by senior BBC executives, already under fire in the U.K. for their alleged high salaries.

In a carefully worded document the Trust, which is fighting for its own life following calls by senior pols to abolish it, said BBC1, 2 and 4 all need to work harder to “define their respective roles.”

On BBC1 the verdict was that while the web “made a strong contribution to the delivery of the BBC’s public purposes to large audiences,” the channel needed to do more to harness its scale by “being more ambitious and distinctive.”

Greater program variety in early evening slots and “greater creative and editorial ambition at 9 p.m.” were demanded.

For BBC2, whose brief is to offer U.K. auds a more challenging schedule than sister web BBC1, the Trust would like to see the channel more upmarket even if this results in smaller audiences.

“Greater ranger and depth” were required in factual shows, while the volume of BBC2 “signature drama” should increase.

“Mainstream comedy” needed to be more “distinctive.”

There was also criticism of the corp.’s TV daytime programs, which were failing to meet audience expectations, according to the Trust.

However, the BBC’s director-general Mark Thompson, launching the corporation’s annual report, claimed the pubcaster was in rude health creatively.

“Last year was the strongest creative year for the BBC that I can remember,” he said.

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