Here is the BBC news, and this is audience research dictating it

THE BBC is to revamp all its main news and current affairs programmes from the evening bulletins to Newsnight, as well as Question Time and Panorama. After completing "the biggest research project into news consumption ever undertaken", the corporation has decided to increase both its emphasis on high-minded, serious journalism, and "personally useful news".

At the high-brow end of the agenda, 50 per cent of a restyled Nine O'Clock News will be devoted to foreign coverage. Tony Hall, the director of news and current affairs who has overseen the project, said yesterday that audiences gave enormous support to the fact that the BBC has retained 50 foreign bureaux around the world, while its main rivals CNN and ITN have only 32 and 50 respectively.

The danger in the new emphasis on foreign news is the real risk that audiences may switch off.

But Mr Hall says that "the challenge is to engage as many people as we can in a serious-minded agenda. To engage everyone in things that matter."

At the popular end, a new Six O'Clock News will have a much greater emphasis on regional stories, and aim to "reflect the diversity of the UK in a way that no other single broadcaster can match".

The overall aim is to make each of the BBC outlets more distinctive in the way it delivers news - a priority as the digital age dawns and competition becomes more intense.

Despite the size of the overhaul, however, there is to be no increase in the size of the BBC's news budget.

Question Time will retain David Dimbleby as presenter, but will go interactive - taking audience opinions by e-mail. Newsnight is to be relaunched and will incorporate an 11pm news bulletin.

Panorama is to be given a brief to do more long-term investigative journalism, an activity that has become rare in many other news outlets.

There will be more room on news programmes for "intelligent coverage" of topics such as fashion, popular culture and consumer affairs - a development which Mr Hall denies is "dumbing down", but instead shows a willingness to embrace aspects of the "new economy". Business journalism will be moved to the mainstream of coverage, instead of being sidelined to particular strands, such as the current Business Breakfast, which is to be axed.

A new weekly current affairs programme is to be commissioned to replace Here and Now, a mid-week show with a popular agenda that has undergone various changes in format, but has never actually taken off.

The new show will be produced out of Manchester for a non-metropolitan perspective, and will be a challenge for the new head of weekly programmes, Helen Boaden. She inherits a long history of failure to recreate the upbeat, regions-based success of Nationwide.

Tony Hall also said yesterday that a major new analysis programme will be commissioned for BBC2, which will aim to take the approach of Radio 4's Analysis and make it work on television. The BBC has made various attempts to do this in the past and, without exception, audiences have been low.

Mr Hall says that unlike some of the previous efforts, the new programme will not be a cheap studio discussion, but will use more expensive film and graphics to explore ideas on screen. "It's got to have a good budget," he confirms.

The programme is, again, a challenge for Ms Boaden.

Other new projects include a show looking at Europe, as well as a "news for schools" online service, intended to inculcate the BBC brand, and the idea that you can trust BBC news, into young people.

The new approach raises some difficult issues. On foreign coverage, for instance, the BBC says that it will build audiences by making foreign stories relevant to everyday British lives.

But some foreign news does not lend itself to that. Reporting on Somalia, Bangladesh or Kosovo does not, for example, usually have any direct link to the lives of the middle-class viewers in Croydon.

Leading article,

page 3, Review





Martyn Lewis


Peter Sissons


Martin Bashir


David Dimbleby


Jeremy Paxman


Juliet Morris


Sara Coburn



A sort of friendlier, lighter version of the Nine O'clock news, often fronted by "good news" presenter Martyn Lewis. Has a feel of Middle England about it.

A cut-glass logo and sombre studio give the impression that this is the UK's most serious news, and the viewers had better sit up and take notice.

Flagship current affairs

programme which, in recent years has become increasingly focused on stories which explore a thesis about society - for instance, do single mothers get pregnant in order to claim benefits?

Decades-old format of David Dimbleby, a panel of three politicians, a token businesswoman and a

respectful studio audience.

Nightly opportunity to watch our politicians and

policy-makers being grilled by a tiger of an interviewer. Best is Jeremy Paxman, then Kirsty Wark, everyone else seems to be "training" to do it properly

In its most recent format, Here and Now is a weekly early evening studio

discussion programme that has Juliet Morris doing a fair impression of Robert Kilroy Silk.

Sends junior reporters off to shopping centres and

businesses from Newcastle to Portsmouth, to report on the state of British business.



The new emphasis on "personally useful news" will mean lots more regional stories at six oclock. From time to time, the entire programme will be based at the scene of a domestic story - for instance at the opening of the Scottish parliament. Specialists from regional newsrooms will be prominent, for instance, the crime correspondent in Norwich, who rarely makes an appearance on national

television at the moment, will get a much better airing.

The presentation is to be "warmer and more inclusive of the viewer", whilst the content becomes more "serious". A commitment to devoting half the programme to foreign coverage while other news organisations are busy closing bureaux around the world is brave. A victory for World Affairs editor John Simpson. More emphasis on explaining why Mr Greenspan's quarter percentage point cut in American interest rates affects the average British mortgage holder.

There is a strong re-emphasis on the "stories that affect our lives", which might raise fears of fewer important foreign programmes, such as Fergal Keane's investigations of genocide in Rwanda - which were first class journalism, but won pitiful audience figures. The top brass, though, say they want to see Panorama doing more "serious investigations" and that they will be given "appropriate budgets" for the purpose. Tony Hall says Panorama will not be moved from its current 10pm Monday slot.

The BBC says audiences want the programme to be fresher and more modern. It will turn it into a more interactive discussion programme with opportunities for people to contribute from home,

initially by e-mail. Recently at a BBC digital high-tech demonstration a Question Time of the future was shown, with audiences at home voting on issues by pointing their zappers at the television. Still David


Heart-warmingly, the BBC

describes Newsnight as "the cornerstone" of BBC2's journalism - and it is to receive a major boost. A new structure, with a news and sports bulleting at 11pm, and a new Saturday edition. The specialist content of the programme will be strengthened and "guest correspondents" will be invited to give "fresh and

surprising" perspectives to news events. Jeremy Paxman remains.

The programme is to be

abolished after a pretty

dismal history. In its early days it tried an American

approach with glamourous young reporters investigating stories "which affect ordinary people". It didn't work well. The BBC will now commission a new weekly presenter-led programme produced in Manchester, which "will leave viewers feeling positive - not disempowered". Brainstorming sessions are already under way in BBC offices to determine its exact format.

It is to go. Business

journalists will go to a new economics and business unit, while Breakfast News overall will get a revamp, with a bulletin every 15 minutes. After 8.15 the programme, says the BBC, will adopt a different pace and feel for the audience staying at home. There will be "personally useful" strands on subjects such as health, money, food and technology, plus regular audience interaction and a

regional showcase.



Every five years the BBC tries to re-create Nationwide's success in making the regions exciting nationally. It usually fails, and is likely to do so again. Unless, that is, Jill Dando can save the day.

The emphasis on foreign news is a triumph for serious journalism. The big question is - will the BBC stick with the policy if audiences revert to their usual tendency to switch to another channel when the news is about "abroad"?

The "investigations"

commitment is good news. But overall, the programme looks a little old- fashioned, and is in sore need of a facelift.

Interactivity is great. The problem is those panels. They give the impression of, somehow, being always the same people.

Yes, for the time being. The big threat to Newsnight comes from Network Television, which would like to move it to a later slot. John Birt has resisted the pressure, but will the next director general be as tough?

Here and Now had exactly the same brief, and failed. Maybe the new version, like the six o'clock news, is in need of Jill Dando.

There must surely be an

audience for a programme that does not feature wacky DJ types such as Denise Van

Outen or Chris Evans. It has a chance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick