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Further to my previous post: in the wake of the Hutton inquiry into the sad death of David Kelly, and the shouting match between Andrew Gilligan and Alastair Campbell over the so-called dodgy dossier, the BBC instituted a programme called Newswatch, as part of an initiative to make its news department more accountable to the public. It gives viewers an outlet for their views and complaints, and it’s been running since 2004, presented throughout by the impeccable Raymond Snoddy, OBE, a free-lance journalist employed by the Corporation for the purpose.

Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. News accountability is allowed 15 minutes per week, and that’s it. The programme is broadcast only on the news channel. It’s shown twice. The  first screening is at 8:45 pm on Friday, when much of the population tends to be celebrating the coming weekend, and the rest is watching Coronation Street or Question of Sport. The second showing is at 7:45am on Saturday, when much of the population tends to be asleep or in the act of rising.

In other words, it’s a fix. BBC news accountability is a complete sham. Newswatch is hidden away from the general viewing audience, as a deliberate act of policy. True accountability would see it shown at least once, after each of the major BBC1 news bulletins, One O’Clock, Six O’Clock and Ten O’Clock, and at peak viewing times on the other BBC channels. Isn’t it ironic that Newswatch should have been born in response to the Hutton Inquiry, which was, of course, also a fix.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Frank Mansfield
    July 16, 2011 at 11:58 am

    At least it’s there. I suspect the scheduling has more to do with potential audience reach than any attempt to ‘bury’ the programme.
    It’s also not the only such programme. Radio 4 always seems to have one on the go – though it tends to be media-wide and not just BBC.
    And do you remember the dreadful “Points of View”. It was on at peak time, but was basically an entertainment show.
    I wonder if Sky News has a complaints programme…
    A more significant issue is the Beeb’s complaints regime. They always took complaints seriously, but the structure never looked independent enough. I think the new Trust chairman is doing something about that.

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