The BBC announced changes to raise standards across the organization and challenge claims of bias.
It has published a 10-point plan focused on impartiality, whistleblowing and editorial standards.
The plan includes periodic content reviews, increased transparency and a new editorial whistleblowing policy.
The BBC faced criticism earlier this year for the “deceptive” way in which Martin Bashir’s 1995 interview with Princess Diana was obtained.
“The BBC’s editorial values of fairness, accuracy and trust are the foundation of our relationship with audiences in the UK and around the world,” said Chief Executive Tim Davie.
“Our audiences deserve and expect programs and content that earn their trust every day and we must meet the highest standards and hold ourselves accountable in everything we do.
“The changes we have announced not only ensure that we learn lessons from the past, but they also protect these essential values for the future.”
The impartiality plan was informed by a review of its editorial, governance and culture processes which was commissioned by the BBC board in May.
The publication in May of the Dyson report, Lord Dyson’s independent investigation into the circumstances of Panorama’s 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales.
The “key actions” of the BBC’s impartiality plan include:
- “Thematic reviews” covering findings in key areas of public debate to ensure that a broad range of voices and views are reflected, with the first covering UK public spending and taxation
- Increased accountability for the BBC’s editorial policy team, with content reviews by internal management to assess how well it meets the company’s editorial standards
- A simple set of procedures for dealing with internal investigations
- “Clarifications” on how the BBC handles expedited editorial complaints about broadcast or posted content
- Tracking such “impartiality metrics” such as editorial complaints, staff training, audience perception and demographics
- Make the BBC editorial guidelines “more obvious and easier to use” for all BBC staff
- Putting two experienced non-BBC experts on its Editorial Guidelines and Standards Committee
- Extend the BBC’s impartiality training to freelancers and new hires at all levels
- Adoption of new measures to improve both internal and external transparency
- Adoption of a new editorial policy on whistleblowing policy
- Empower managers to ensure audiences from all parts of the UK are represented both on and off the screen
Sir Nicholas Serota’s Review, released Friday, found that “a lot has changed” in the past 25 years, but said that “there was still significant potential for improvement.”
The former Tate director said there is an opportunity for BBC leaders “to go further and ensure that accuracy, fairness, fairness and integrity are rooted deeper in the organization.”
In what will be seen as a reference to Martin Bashir, the report states that the risk of “a rogue journalist evading editorial controls” can never be completely eliminated.
Yet he says that the guidelines, culture, safeguards and governance put in place by his interview with Panorama mean that “the risk of circumvention occurring and not being controlled has been significantly reduced”.
“However, successful organizations learn from their mistakes.”
Bashir left the BBC for the second time after his rehiring in 2016 as a religious editor.
“We need a BBC that is irreproachable when it comes to fairness, standards, processes and transparency,” said BBC President Richard Sharp.
“The Serota Review makes clear recommendations to the Council in all these areas, which will be followed up.”
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