BBC Vows 'Greater Accountability', Less Ratings-Chasing

29 April 2004

In its annual policy statement released this morning (Thursday), the BBC pledges greater accountability in matters of internal controls and journalistic standards.

Many Britons, however, believe there is little wrong with the latter standards. They see its inclusion in the report as a craven sop from the BBC's board of governors to the Blair administration -- in whose none-too-steady hands rests the future of the globe's most respected broadcasting organisation.

But more important to those who hew a living from the media and marketing coalface, the BBC undertakes to reverse its policy of ratings-grabbing at the expense of arts, current affairs and documentary programming, especially at peak viewing times.

The BBC's policy statement also reveals its governors will receive in June the results of an internal inquiry to determine how "processes and guidelines" on the news side need strengthening in light of the highly controversial Hutton Report.

The latter's total exoneration of the Blair administration (over accusations of "sexing-up" intelligence to strengthen its case for war in Iraq) triggered an massive skepticism even among the government's most ardent supporters. Hutton criticizes as "unfounded" a BBC radio report that levelled those accusations.

By spelling out clear goals for each of its radio, TV and online services, the BBC seeks to parry accusations that its activities are unaccountable. The BBC's board of governors believe that goal-setting will act as a "mechanism for holding the BBC to account."

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff