A report by the BBC Trust has warned that the public believes Channel 4 is ahead of the BBC in its investigative journalism and in making pioneering current affairs programmes.
"The Review of BBC Network News and Current Affairs" puts pressure on the flagship shows Panorama and Newsnight to produce more distinctive shows.
“Audiences who consider the quality of investigative journalism as an important factor in differentiating providers… rate Channel 4 higher than the BBC,” it said. “There was a perception that Channel 4 is more associated with being pioneering and taking risks than the BBC in its current affairs (and documentary) programming.”
Taken as a whole, BBC journalism was “trusted and highly-regarded”, the review found. But it noted that viewing of BBC current affairs output had fallen from 8.3 million adults per week in 2011 to 6.3 million in 2013, largely because the audience for Panorama had fallen by 20 per cent in 2013. This was mainly the result of smaller audiences for hour-long special editions of the show.
The Review acknowledged recent changes at Newsnight but said it was “too early” to judge their success. “We note the BBC’s determination to reinvigorate the programme in recent months, its fresh approach to both content and style and more active use of social media,” it said.