BBC2 told to forget chasing ratings and dare to be different

BBC1 and BBC2 are too similar, while BBC4 needs to do more to raise its profile, the BBC Trust said yesterday after a review of the output of the channels.

The corporation's governing body told channel controllers that it expected to see an improvement in performance by the end of next year.

The review found that BBC1, which has been performing well in audience ratings, needed to be more ambitious and risk-taking. "It should actively seek to increase the level of range, variety and surprise in pre-watershed peak time, and show greater creative ambition at 9pm," said the Trust. "We would expect to see signs of improvement in audience perceptions by the end of 2011."

BBC2 needed to be more distinctive from the flagship channel, argued the governing body, which was critical of the quality of the daytime output of the two channels. "[BBC2's] aim should be to re-establish its position as a channel which audiences recognise as being manifestly different to BBC1."

The average person in the UK watches 5 hours 29 minutes a week of BBC1 programming, though the number of different shows on the channel between 7pm and 9pm has fallen from 115 to 61 between 2005 and 2009 as it has concentrated on popular formats such as Strictly Come Dancing.

The Trust said that Janice Hadlow, controller of BBC2, should not be afraid of losing audience as she tried to make her channel more distinctive. "BBC2 should ensure it provides something which audiences recognise as being manifestly different from BBC1, even at the risk that BBC2's reach may fall."

The review examined the strength of the news and current affairs output on the three channels, highlighting the declining ratings for BBC2's Newsnight, which has seen its audience fall by 20 per cent since 2004, while noting the growing reach for BBC1 programmes Question Time and This Week.

The BBC's leading current affairs strand Panorama had a mixed report. The review noted that the switch to a 30-minute slot on Monday nights had resulted in an increased audience reach, though some of that ground has since been lost.

The Trust said: "BBC management is exploring the possibility of slightly reducing the number of episodes of Panorama while retaining current levels of investment in the programme in order to give production teams greater space to develop investigations."

It also called on BBC1 to produce more one-off documentaries, citing the high audience approval ratings for Wounded, a programme about the rehabilitation journey of two soldiers.

The Trust called on BBC4, a channel that is loved by the chattering classes for its strong documentaries and arts coverage, to "achieve greater impact", including raising the profile of its world news coverage.

The review was supported by audience research which was broadly supportive of the BBC output. Some 44 per cent of viewers approved highly of BBC1, compared to 13 per cent who gave it a low rating. Some 65 per cent of respondents said the channel represented good value for money. BBC2 fared better, with 44 per cent giving it high approval scores, compared to 7 per cent who disapproved of its output, with 74 per cent saying they "learned new things" while watching the channel.

But BBC4 scored only 27 per cent high approvals, with 20 per cent of respondents giving it a low rating. "BBC4's approach is to focus in depth on relatively specialist areas of interest that may not have mainstream appeal," said the report. "Viewers are more likely to be male, aged older than 35 and of a higher social grade."

Singled out for praise – or criticism

Bang Goes the Theory

The BBC1 science strand that was picked out by the BBC Trust as too rare an example of "new and ambitious" programming in peak time.



Newsnight

The Trust complained that BBC2's current affairs programming has lacked impact in "key areas such as foreign affairs and business, economics and finance". It noted that audiences had fallen by 20 per cent since 2004.

Question Time

The long-running format was cited as an example of a show that was increasing its reach, but the Trust said that viewing of British current affairs was in decline.



Panorama

The Trust said Panorama should remain the flagship format, but said it had lost reach and should do more long investigations. It applauded plans to reduce the number of shows but maintain funding to provide greater resources.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
newsJohn Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
News
i100
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
News
Bey can do it: Beyoncé re-enacts Rosie the Riveter's pose
newsRosie the Riveter started out as an American wartime poster girl and has become a feminist pin-up. With Beyoncé channeling her look, Gillian Orr tells her story
Life and Style
Donna and Paul Wheatley at their wedding
healthShould emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?

Some couples are allowed emergency hospital weddings, others are denied the right. Kate Hilpern reports on the growing case for a compassionate cutting of the red tape
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit