29/04/2004

More peak time arts, current affairs and documentaries, say BBC

The BBC has promised to air more arts, current affairs and documentaries during peak time viewing.

Publishing the Corporation's 'Statements of Programme Policy for 2004/2005' the BBC has underscored a commitment to reduce 'make-over' drama programmes.

Since the Board of Governors approved a new strategy for arts on television in 2002, the BBC has continued to expand the breadth and depth of its arts programming, particularly on BBC One.

This year will also see the launch of a new strand on BBC Two.

The BBC has listened to audiences who want cultural and arts journalism added to the mix of BBC arts programmes and is responding with ‘The Culture Show’, which will launch later this year.

Building on its commitment last year to reduce make-over programming in peak, BBC Two will also provide several major new series of documentaries featuring a range of subjects – from terrorism to disability to parenting – marking a revival of documentary programming in 2004/2005.

Also in the year ahead, BBC Two will increase its commitment to current affairs by 10 hours, reflecting the recently launched current affairs analysis strand, ‘If….’

Elsewhere, BBC One commits to a particular focus on consumer programming within its factual output and an additional 10 hours of current affairs this year.

BBC Three will draw on the success of the ‘60 Seconds’ hourly bulletin in developing the 7 O'clock News weekday programme.

BBC News 24 is strengthening its commitment to international and business news and in particular its regional news coverage, working more closely with BBC reporters in the Nations and Regions.

The BBC is committed to providing something of value to everyone in the UK and this year's Statements show how the BBC is responding to the high expectation of its licence payers with programmes that inform, educate and entertain.

To meet the Governors' request for programme plans to be presented in a way that demonstrate how they contribute to delivering the BBC's public purpose, this year's Statements are framed around a description of how the BBC contributes to society as a whole and people as individuals in five key areas: informing citizenship; enriching the cultural life of the nation; contributing to education; connecting communities; and supporting the UK's role in the world.

Acting BBC Chairman Richard Ryder said: "The BBC's new approach to Statements of Programme Policy will enable licence payers to judge the BBC's performance with greater clarity.

"On their behalf, the Board of Governors will monitor the BBC's performance against these commitments throughout the year and report its assessment in the Annual Report and Accounts."

Acting BBC Director-General Mark Byford said: "The BBC is listening, learning and responding to licence payers.

"The public expects the BBC to provide the widest range and the highest quality programmes on television, radio and online. These Statements, across all our services, demonstrate our commitment to meeting that expectation.

"BBC TWO's commitment to more arts, current affairs and documentaries in peak time is a clear example of the BBC's consistent approach to adapting to changing audience needs.

"But a renewed focus on arts and current affairs does not signal a lack of focus elsewhere at the BBC. The Statements also show the BBC's continued commitment to delivering something of value to audiences through comedy, drama, entertainment, sport, children's programming and religion.

"We are a creative organisation committed to providing the best creative content for all our audiences, whatever their needs and interests."

The Board commissioned the Statements from BBC management in December 2003 and Governors reviewed drafts on several occasions before approving the Statements at their Board meeting in March.

(GB)

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