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BBC Public Purpose Remit sustaining citizenship and civil society

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					BBC Public Purpose Remit:
Sustaining citizenship and
civil society




December 2007
Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society




Sustaining citizenship and civil society

You can trust the BBC to provide high-quality news, current affairs and
factual programming that keeps you informed and supports debate
about important issues and political developments in an engaging way.
You can look to the BBC for help in using and understanding different
kinds of media. 1

What the BBC will do to achieve this Purpose

1. Provide independent journalism of the highest quality.
   BBC journalism should be independent, accurate and impartial –
   providing news and current affairs of relevance, range and depth
   which audiences trust. BBC Journalism should offer a range and depth
   of analysis not widely available from other UK providers.

2. Engage a wide audience in news, current affairs and other topical
   issues.
   The BBC should provide news and current affairs that interests and
   informs people of all backgrounds, ages and levels of knowledge,
   enabling them to engage with the major issues of today.

3. Encourage conversation and debate about news, current affairs and
   topical issues.
   BBC news and current affairs should inform conversation and debate
   among friends, family and wider groups through forums for debate
   such as phone-ins and online discussion areas.

4. Build greater understanding of the parliamentary process and political
   institutions governing the UK.
   The BBC should help all its audiences understand how the UK is
   governed at a European, national, regional and local level.

5. Enable audiences to access, understand and interact with different
   types of media.
   The BBC should help people become ‘media-literate’ – giving them
   the confidence to make full use of all media including information
   technologies. The BBC will help its audiences engage critically with
   media – to find what they are looking for from trustworthy sources, to
   understand what it is about, to form an opinion about it and, where
   necessary, to respond to and interact with it. 2

1  The BBC’s contribution to the promotion and sustainment of citizenship is not exclusive to this Purpose,
and will be achieved through its other Purposes, particularly Promoting Education and Learning and
Representing the UK, its Nations, Regions and Communities.
2 The BBC’s contribution to media literacy is not exclusive to this priority, and is covered within some of
its other Purposes, particularly Promoting Education and Learning and Emerging Communications.

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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society




Guidance on how the Trust intends to measure performance against the
Purpose priorities is contained in Annex I. Annex II explains the priorities,
and how they have been developed, in more detail.




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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society



Annex I: Purpose Remit Measurement

In order to monitor the BBC’s delivery of the Public Purposes, the Trust will
use largely quantitative measures based on licence fee payer
perceptions of the BBC's delivery of the Purpose priorities. In some cases it
will be necessary to supplement or replace such measures with qualitative
research on priorities which are not readily amenable to survey questions
and therefore require more in-depth research. Where appropriate, the
Trust will also gather comparative data, using its survey questions, to assess
the BBC’s performance relative to other media providers.

For details about how the Trust will use these measures in evaluating the
BBC’s effectiveness in delivering its Public Purposes, please see the
Purpose Remit Operating Framework.

Priority (i): Provide independent journalism of the highest quality.
The Trust will measure:
Audience perceptions of the BBC providing high quality independent
journalism.

Priority (ii): Engage a wide audience in news, current affairs and other
topical issues.
The Trust will measure:
Audience perceptions of the BBC making the major issues of the day
interesting to them.

Priority (iii): Encourage conversation and debate about news, current
affairs and topical issues.
The Trust will measure:
Audience perceptions of the BBC encouraging them to talk about news
and current affairs.

Priority (iv): Build greater understanding of the parliamentary process and
political institutions governing the UK.
The Trust will measure:
Audience perceptions of the BBC helping them understand how the UK is
governed at a national and local level.

Priority (v): Enable audiences to access, understand and interact with
different types of media.
The Trust will measure:
Audience perceptions of the BBC helping them to understand how to use
new technology such as interactive TV and the internet.

Qualitative audience research will also be used, particularly to explore
how far audiences feel they have been helped to evaluate and engage
with the many sources of content available through digital media.



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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society



Annex II: Explanatory Note

Introduction

This Annex explains the background to the development of the ‘sustaining
citizenship and civil society’ Purpose Remit.

Under its Charter and the Agreement the BBC has six Public Purposes,
which are:

   1.   sustaining citizenship and civil society;
   2.   promoting education and learning;
   3.   stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
   4.   representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities;
   5.   bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK;
   6.   in promoting its other Purposes, helping to deliver to the public the
        benefit of emerging communications technologies and services
        and, in addition, taking a leading role in the switchover to digital
        television.

For each Public Purpose the Trust must adopt a Purpose Remit setting out
priorities and specifying how the Executive Board’s performance against
these priorities will be judged. The Trust must consult publicly in
developing the Purpose Remits before adopting them.

The six Public Purposes should not be seen as entirely separate aims but as
parts of a whole whose boundaries necessarily overlap. The six Remits
should therefore be read together – and within the context of the BBC’s
overall mission to inform, educate and entertain.

Subsequent to public consultation, the Trust will use the Remits to
commission Purpose Plans from the Executive Board. These will set out how
the BBC's services and supporting activities will deliver the Purpose
priorities. Once it has approved the Purpose Plans, the Trust will amend
Service Licences, as necessary, to reflect the role that services play in
delivering the priorities set out in Purpose Remits.

The Trust will conduct a full review of the Purpose Remits in 2011/12.

This Annex is divided into three sections

1. Scope of the Public Purpose
This sets out the types of output and activities to be covered by the
Purpose, as required by the Charter and Agreement.

2. Market Context and BBC Role
In this section the overall market context for the delivery of the Purpose is
described, including major developments in terms of technologies,


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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society



audiences and the wider political and policy context. Against this
background, the BBC's particular role in delivering the Purpose is outlined.

3. Priorities
This section sets out, in detail, the priorities that the Trust has set the
Executive Board.

1. Scope of the Public Purpose

The Charter and Agreement note the importance of sustaining citizenship
through the enrichment of the public realm and obliges the Trust to
ensure that the BBC ‘gives information about, and increases
understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news, other
information, and analysis of current events and ideas.’ In doing so, the
Trust is obliged to ‘have regard to the need to promote understanding of
the UK political system (including Parliament and the devolved structures)
including through dedicated coverage of Parliamentary matters, and the
need for the Purpose Remit to ensure that the BBC transmits an impartial
account day by day of the proceedings in both Houses of Parliament.’
The Trust is also obliged to have regard to ‘the need to promote media
literacy’.

2. Market Context and BBC Role

The remit of this Public Purpose reflects in part current and expected
developments in the pattern of consumption of news by audiences as
well as the news market. This section sets out some of the main changes
in this regard and the related challenges faced by news providers.

2.1 Market Context and Developments

Audience choice for sources of news and information is rapidly increasing
as new entrants come into the market.

News and information, once scarce, is now abundant and continuously
available. New technology – especially digital technology – has
dramatically cut distribution costs and enabled many new entrants to
come into the market. These technologies are also enabling providers to
reach audiences in new ways and via new platforms. As a result there is
greatly increased choice for audiences – and greatly increased
competition between providers of news and information.

Increased competition for audiences among news providers puts
pressures on quality.

Although distribution costs have fallen sharply, the costs of newsgathering
have increased. This applies particularly to the costs of professional eye-
witness reporting. As intensifying competition puts pressure on overall


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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society



costs, there is a risk that investment in newsgathering will be cut. Primary
newsgathering could become concentrated in fewer hands - which
constitutes a threat to diversity of supply; or eye-witness reporting could
be reduced or become more reliant on non-professional contributors -
which threatens its quality. Timeliness has become a key competitive
battleground for 24-hour news and this puts pressure on accuracy. Digital
technology enables any individual to publish or supply stories to very large
audiences. However this ‘user-generated’ content is of variable
accuracy, impartiality and fairness. All these developments are putting
intense pressure on the maintenance of high-quality, authoritative and
trustworthy news supply.

Audience expectations of news providers are changing.

Although audiences continue to look to the media to offer highly edited
summaries of events and analysis of issues they can be less willing to take
the media’s version of events at face value. Some want to question and
comment while others seek to contribute by constructing their own
reports and analyses out of raw news materials. News providers are
having to change to accommodate these pressures, for example by
providing raw news feeds, finding and breaking stories as well as offering
highly edited reports and analysis of issues, and developing a two-way
relationship with their audiences.

Audience demands from current affairs are changing.

There has been a marked decline in UK audiences for traditional television
current affairs where half an hour or longer is set aside for expert analysis
of a single significant issue. However, there is still a need for analysis of
serious issues and for investigative and revelatory journalism. The
challenge for news providers lies in sustaining demand for analysis of
significant issues not seen as directly relevant to audiences’ lives.

Engaging audiences in coverage of politics is increasingly difficult.

The BBC has particular obligations laid upon it in the Charter and
Agreement to report Parliament and the devolved structures, and to
promote understanding of the UK political system. It discharges these
obligations through dedicated coverage of Parliamentary matters
including an impartial account day by day of the proceeding in both
Houses of Parliament.

There is, however, an important dimension to politics in the UK that
demands that providers of news and current affairs widen the scope of
political coverage well beyond Parliament and the devolved structures of
the UK. Younger audiences, for example, show declining interest in voting
in general elections. There is, however, no sign that young people are
turning away from involvement in society and its issues. Many young


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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society



people in the UK are involved in single-issue pressure groups and there is
evidence that the under-25s are the most likely of all groups to take part
in regular volunteering. 3

In addition, therefore, to providing authoritative and impartial coverage
of Parliamentary politics, there is a need to develop effective and
engaging ways of covering the political issues that resonate with UK
audiences who do not necessarily see Parliament as reflecting and
representing their concerns.

Increased significance has been given to the institutions of civil society.

Civil society is commonly understood as the network of non-state
organisations through which citizens organise and promote their interests
and values. These typically include charities, voluntary organisations,
trade associations, self-help groups, educational and sporting groups and
faith-based organisations. These networks provide support for their
members and also help to build a larger sense of community where
people can come together for their own benefit - and for the benefit of
others. In this way they can be said to enrich the public realm by offering
solutions for problems. As such, the institutions of civil society have much
to contribute to the national debate alongside individuals, government
and other informed contributors. However, there is a need to balance the
views of these groups with those of the wider public to avoid over-
reliance on them. Providing a range of forums to enable these debates
and supplying the accurate information that fuels them is a valuable role
for media organisations to play – and a way in which the media
themselves can enrich the public realm.

The need for skills in media literacy is increasing.

The increasing availability and sophistication of communications media is
producing an increased need for media literacy – the ability of individual
members of the public to access, evaluate and engage with the media.
Media literacy builds skills in judging the accuracy and trustworthiness of
content and enables users to engage confidently with the technology
and use it to create the communications they want. It is therefore an
essential tool of modern citizenship. Levels of media literacy are likely to
vary according to age and platform. Whereas most people in the UK are
comfortable with television, many are less so with the internet; and in
general terms the over-65s have significantly lower levels of media literacy
than other age groups. 4




3
  Home Office Citizenship Survey, 2005, measuring percentages of respondents who had volunteered at
least once a month in the 12 months before the survey.
4
  Media Literacy Audit – Report on Adult Media Literacy, Ofcom; March 2006


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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society



2.2 The BBC Role

This market context suggests a clear public service imperative for the BBC
to provide serious news, current affairs and factual programming of the
highest quality to all UK audiences through a wide range of channels. Its
impartial and accurate content should engage audiences and make its
relevance to their lives clear. It should offer a wide range of topics over
time and depth of analysis not widely available from other UK providers.
The potential of interactivity should be exploited to provide arenas for
informed debate in the UK.

The BBC also has a responsibility to build media literacy in order to help UK
audiences make sense of the increasing number of media choices, to
find other appropriate sources of news and information, and to increase
their confidence in using digital technologies.

3. Priorities

In delivering this Purpose, the Trust will focus on the following priorities for
the Executive Board, through which the BBC will, to an appropriate
extent, also promote the delivery of the Public Purpose for ‘leading digital
switchover and encouraging emerging communications technologies’.
The Trust has developed the following priorities with reference to the
requirements of the Charter and Agreement, the emerging market
context in which the BBC is operating and an understanding of the needs
of licence fee payers.

(i) Provide independent journalism of the highest quality

All BBC journalism – local, regional, national and international - should set
standards of impartiality, accuracy and independence, seen by
audiences as paramount to the success of the BBC’s news provision. 5 BBC
news and current affairs should cover a very wide range of topics and
provide a depth of analysis and context not widely available from other
UK broadcasters. In the face of the increasing availability of news of
questionable credibility, the trustworthiness of all BBC journalism must be
unimpeachable.

Audiences have highlighted what they expect from a news service –
accuracy, speed, personalisation, two-way dialogue and trust. Overall,
BBC journalism is highly thought of, but audiences want the BBC to be
more modern, accessible, dynamic and courageous. 6

(ii) Engage a wide audience in news, current affairs and other topical
issues.

5
    BBC Charter Review: ‘What You Said About the BBC’, DCMS; July 2004
6
    Creative Future research: A Future for BBC Journalism, Sparkler; September 2005


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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society




Audiences believe that offering programmes and services that help
people learn, that represent the different cultures of the UK, and that
enable people to take part in the democratic process - such as high
quality news and current affairs - is a key role for a public service
broadcaster. 7 Both as consumers and as citizens, BBC audiences place
BBC national and regional news as the most important genres. 8

It is important for the BBC to engage all UK audiences with news, current
affairs and other topical factual programming. To do so, the BBC will need
to provide both for those who are hungry for information and analysis and
for those whom the BBC has traditionally found it hard to reach.

(iii) Encourage conversation and debate about news, current affairs and
topical issues.

The spread of citizen-journalism, blogging and other user-generated
content, demonstrates an increasing interest within the audience for
direct and active engagement with the news and its underlying issues.
Audiences want the BBC to provide the means for citizens to interact and
to participate in debate across a variety of platforms and at local,
regional, nations’ and UK-wide levels. 9

The Trust sees a clear role for the BBC in providing accurate information to
enable people to take part in the debates that sustain the democratic
process and civil society. Audiences see this role as appropriate across
the full range of BBC output, not just news and current affairs. None of
these activities, however, should be allowed to conflict with the overriding
imperatives of due impartiality.

(iv) Build greater understanding of the parliamentary process and political
institutions governing the UK.

Under the Charter and Agreement, the BBC is committed to promoting
understanding of the UK political system and parliamentary process
through dedicated coverage of Parliamentary matters, including an
impartial account day by day of the proceedings in both Houses of
Parliament. BBC political coverage should also take full account of
devolution and report the work of the national parliaments and
assemblies. Coverage of political institutions should include the wider
machinery of government in Whitehall, the devolved structures, local
government, non-departmental bodies and Europe. There is a particular
need for the work of the devolved structures to be accurately reflected in
UK-wide news output. The BBC’s political content should include
coverage of national and local elections.
7
  BBC Charter Review: ‘What You Said About the BBC’, DCMS; July 2004
8
  Creative Future research: Human Capital and Pulse; 2006
9
  Creative Future research: Human Capital and Pulse; 2006


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Purpose Remit: Sustaining citizenship and civil society




Through news, current affairs and factual programming, the BBC should
aim to engage audiences who may not see parliamentary politics as
central to their concerns.

(v) Enable audiences to access, understand and interact with different
types of media.

Media literacy is an essential tool of modern citizenship and is increasingly
central to the population’s ability to participate in society. The BBC has
an important role equipping audiences with the skills to understand,
access and interact with media. This includes helping audiences engage
critically with media - to find what they are looking for from trustworthy
sources, to understand what it is about, to form an opinion about it and,
where necessary, to respond to and interact with it. Building audiences’
confidence in their use of digital media will help to foster a dynamic
creative economy in the UK. 10

The BBC is part of the Media Literacy Task Force and helps those with
lower levels of media literacy to understand, use and enjoy digital
technologies, including building awareness of when it is illegal to access
content. The BBC should continue to find innovative ways to overcome
people’s reluctance to try new technology. 11




10
     Ofcom Media Literacy Bulletin; Issue 5 March 2006
11
     Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a digital world, BBC; June 2004


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