BBC quality control

Governors order study of channel's content

LONDON — The BBC governors have ordered an inquiry into flagship channel BBC1 to address public concerns about declining program quality.

Review was announced as part of the pubcaster’s annual report. In it the governors adopted a more critical tone than in previous years — a response to the Hutton report’s criticism of reporting standards before last year’s Iraq war, which forced the resignation of BBC chairman Gavyn Davies and director-general Greg Dyke.

“Traditionally the annual report … has been as much about marketing the BBC as holding it to account, and as much about the management’s view of its own performance as about the governors’ view of management’s performance,” commented new chairman Michael Grade.

“This annual report is different, and we intend to take this process further in future.”

Report calls for the BBC to improve the efficiency of its production, saying that progress “has not been as rapid as we expected.”

The governors expressed concern that audiences think the quality of BBC output has declined in recent years. Nonetheless, research also indicates that auds believe the BBC offers better quality than its commercial rivals in most program genres.

With that in mind, the governors declared their intention to commission an independent study of BBC1 to assess whether the channel has the right programming balance in primetime.

“It is right that the BBC justifies its privileged position,” Grade said. “It is important that we have the appropriate targets to ensure the BBC’s programs and services reflect what really matters — the needs and interests of our funders, the license payers.”

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