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                      Spa Hotel, Tunbridge Wells
                        Thursday 16 April 2009


PRESENT: Jill Hogan                RAC Chair
         James Bibb                Local Radio Link Radio Sussex & Radio Surrey
         Alan Witt                 Local Radio Link Radio Kent
         Simon Miller
         Rosie Webb
         Anne Angel
         Rod Lipscombe
         Margaret Cutbush
         Patrick Coffey
         Sue French
         Chris Thomas

BBC          Mick Rawsthorne       Head of Region, South East
             Laura Truscott        Public Accountability Manager
             John Sparrow          Public Accountability Manager
             Quentin Smith         TV Editor, BBC South East Today (part of the meeting)

Apologies:  Apologies had been received from Stephen Burt, Simon Evers and
Jo Thompson


      Jill Hogan welcomed new members. She introduced Mick Rawsthorne,
      Quentin Smith and John Sparrow.


      The minutes were agreed as a true record.


      Review of BBC South East Today – 8th & 9th April

      Members were split over the coverage of the retirement of the Bishop of Rochester.
      Some felt it was unnecessary to highlight his anti-Muslim views, whilst others thought
      that it was an interesting story and had relevance because he was the first and only
      Asian bishop in the UK. Members thought it would be interesting to have a follow
      up in a few months time on the Bishop’s new role.

Members questioned the editorial decision to lead on the “job advert” story and to
feature the “Bleak House” story. They thought it was unnecessary free exposure and
of no benefit to the viewer.

The majority of members no longer watched the regional news from ITV Meridian as
they felt it was no longer relevant to them as the area it served was too large. Some
members however still preferred Meridian’s coverage as it featured more stories
from Sussex.

Overall members liked the balance of stories within South East Today. Over the two
days reviewed, there was a noticeable difference in the weight of the content with
more substantial items on the 7th. The items were balanced and relevant across the
region but there was a perception amongst some members that there was a Kent
bias. The situation needed to be monitored constantly to ensure that Sussex was
well represented, but without becoming too parochial.

Younger members liked the 8pm as it was punchy and provided a lot of information
in a short space of time. They liked sound bites of news. They would like to see a
younger presenter to attract younger viewers; something in between Newsround and
South East Today. The weather coverage had improved and members liked the
addition of live weather in the 1025 bulletin.

BBC’s response
Mick Rawsthorne and Quentin Smith thanked members for their comments.
Quentin Smith explained that the 1830 was the flagship programme. The aim was to
bring the news from the last 24 hours to the audience in the first ten minutes of the
programme. The middle section was dedicated to special reports and the end of the
programme had lighter pieces. The weather had been developed significantly over
the last six months and now included a live report in the 2225 programme.

It was hard to strike a balance of news and relevance whilst covering the patch, more
reporters had been deployed to try and cover the region well. There was now a
video journalist based in Hastings and three reporters in Brighton. Quentin Smith
admitted that there was probably a Kent bias as Kent was bigger and had a more
urban population than Sussex so therefore more stories were generated. However
he agreed the perception of coverage needed to be addressed constantly.

The Bishop piece was relevant as he was a possible archbishop contender, the first
Asian bishop and had caused controversy over his comments about Muslims. Ian
Palmer had built up a relationship with the bishop and had obtained a TV exclusive
for South East Today.

Mick Rawsthorne was surprised that some members preferred Meridian especially
now the region had been extended.

     BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Radio Surrey

     Members welcomed the new identity for the radio stations; it made them easily
     identifiable. They had enjoyed “The Big Day Out” on the relaunch day, the radio
     teams had gone out on the road all day across the counties promoting the new
     station names.

     Some members were envious of Radio Kent as it was promoted more often in South
     East Today.

     BBC’s response
     Mick Rawsthorne was really pleased that the members had enjoyed the outside
     broadcasting. He said it was a real lesson in moving away from the desk and finding
     more stories by foot stomping and door knocking instead. He hoped that the
     stations could repeat it in the future.

     With the separation of Radios Sussex and Surrey it would now be easier to promote
     the stations via South East Today.

     Radio Kent

     •   Members thought the breakfast programme had improved and one member now
         listened to Radio Kent rather than Radio 4.
     •    [Withheld from published minutes under section 43 of the Act.]

     Members enjoyed Iain Dale, Tory blogger, and thought he was very articulate and
     balanced in his opinions. However they felt Nigel Farage, UKIP, ruined the balance as
     he seemed to get too much air time compared to other parties.

     Members were annoyed that they were unable to listen to Radio Kent digitally due to
     the lack of DAB coverage in Kent.


     Jill Hogan reported that Helen Boaden’s presentation had reassured members that
     England would be well represented at the top table. She valued the regional voice
     and saw great benefit in hearing and sharing regional stories. She acknowledged the
     regional councils and said she needed to have real evidence in order for England to
     make a difference at the top table.

     Gareth Tuck from the BBC Trust Unithad also attended the ACE meeting to give
     feedback on the children’s research that the regional audience councils had taken
     part in. He liked the anecdotal responses from children and was able to incorporate
     these into the Trust’sfinal report.

     ACE / RAC Accountability Year - Showed the new structure of the
     accountability year.

       Head of Region’s report

       Mick Rawsthorne highlighted the following from this report:

       The BBC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a partnership in
       regional news with ITV to share facilities. It would be a big culture change for the
       staff of both companies if it went ahead.

       SCR had been rebranded as BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey. There would be no
       significant change to the output but the names were a better reflection of the
       editorial ambition to emphasize localness.


       Thanks to members who had taken part in the Network News Impartiality work.
       The information had been sent to the Trust.

       The Trust Work Plan showed some areas in which the RAC may be involved in
       outreach throughout the year.


       Laura Truscott explained the format for the May outreach project. Members were
       asked to come back with who they would bring along.
                                    Action – Members to respond to Laura Truscott


       DAB timetable and lack of accessibility – particularly Radio Kent.


9.     DATE OF NEXT MEETING                    18th June 2009
                                               Spa Hotel, Tunbridge Wells

10.    Programmes for review Radio 2 & 6 Music

[We aim to make as much of the minutes available as possible. However, there will be times when
sections of the minutes will be withheld from publication. These will be kept to a minimum and
clearly marked.

The reasons for withholding information are consistent with the Freedom of Information Act which
applies to some of the BBC’s information. See for further explanation.]


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