Lord Patten told the Broadcasting Press Guild that one of his obsessions was an improvement in the quality of BBC World News. “Through no fault of the present or recent management, or the performers, we’ve under-resourced even though it is the service that is watched more than any other and I hope that before long we’re going to see some improvement there.”
Under the 2010 licence fee settlement the BBC is taking on the funding of BBC World Service radio from the Foreign Office. Lord Patten said that from 2014 when the [commercially funded] BBC World News goes directly onto the BBC’s books it will be seen as part of the corporation’s offering to the world.
Cuts in the World Service have already been made by the Foreign Office, Lord Patten is committed to maintaining the current £250 million budget, but with the likelihood of some of that being transferred to TV. “If you find yourself in some part of the world channel surfing, it’s the television that you are far more likely to be watching,” he said.
In the next few weeks BBC World News will move into the refurbished Broadcasting House in Central London from its present location within television centre.
One area for improvement will be the back half hours that currently broadcast a range of feature programmes when rival broadcasters are continuing with rolling news.
Lord Patten also announced the launch of a ‘Breadth of Opinion Survey’ under the former ITV executive Stuart Prebble. The study will cover Europe, immigration and religion, three areas of editorial policy where the BBC as a while often comes in for criticism.
In addition to a qualative survey, comparisons will also be made with the BBC’s coverage of the areas in 2007.