Right of Reply: Tony Hall

The Chief Executive of BBC News defends his plans to reform television news programmes

ACCORDING TO your editorial, BBC News is nostalgic for Nationwide and plans to run an hour-long News at Six. As far as David Lister is concerned, there is less about public service broadcasting and education in our vision for BBC News. Both are wrong.

The News at Six will remain at half an hour. The regional news will continue from 6.30pm. Nationwide was a great programme for its time. But don't expect us to get our flares out of the cupboard and film skateboarding ducks in the new Six O'Clock News.

The changing political and social make-up of the United Kingdom presents new challenges for broadcasters. We need to ensure that BBC News remains in touch with the mood and interests of people in all parts of the country. That's not being nostalgic but looking forward to and preparing for change by reflecting the increasing diversity of the UK.

No news bulletin will shy away from the most significant news stories of the day whether it is Kosovo, Clinton, Europe, or the economy. To do so would be patronising. That is not going to happen and it is not what viewers have told us they want.

They tell us they want a serious-minded agenda: they emphatically do not want us to "dumb down", and we won't.

Audiences do have different demands throughout the day. That does mean offering viewers a choice of news at times and in ways that suit them.

The BBC is committed to maintaining news and our flagship investigative and policy programmes. Our plans to develop news for schools as part of our online service will open up a link to the National Grid for Learning and every school in the UK.

So let's leave Nationwide in the archives and look at public service news for this generation and the next.

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