1 Minutes Regional Audience Council BBC North East and Cumbria by hjkuiw354


									    Minutes Regional Audience Council BBC North East and Cumbria
    Wednesday 4 March 2009 from 5.30pm – 7.30pm at BBC Newcastle

              Hannah Eyres (Chair)
              Frank Swinhoe
              Alan Coates
              Steve Ryall
              Veronica Alvarez
              Stephen Langley

Apologies:    Mark Freeman
              Jan Harris
              Venus Carew
              Brenda Graham
              Ammi Pabary
              Lynne Hall
              Nick Francis

BBC Representatives:
           Phil Roberts                    (Head of Region)
           Carol Cooke                     (Public Accountability Manager)

The chair welcomed everyone to the meeting. There were seven apologies for

Carol Cooke spoke to the Managing Editor of Radio Newcastle about the incorrect
description of Easington Lane and Seaham who said he would need specific times and
dates before he could investigate.
Carol spoke to Catherine Diment of 2entertain who make DVDs for the BBC, who
said they not been commissioned to make DVDs, and emailed as follows
‘I can’t confirm why the decision was made not to release Shooting Stars on DVD as
it was quite a few years back. I imagine it was a combination of our rights in the
programme expiring and an editorial decision. I am pleased to confirm that we have
expressed an interest in acquiring the rights to the new Shooting Stars Special
however we haven’t received confirmation that our bid was successful. If successful
we would hope to release in the next year.’

Carol provided a web link for a DVD of the best of series two – called Shooting Stars:
Unviewed And Nude / Unpicked And Unplucked
http://www.play.com/DVD/DVD/4-/718844/-/Product.html amd a web link for people
wishing to petition for the series to be available on DVD.
The minutes were accepted as being an accurate account.


(1) Generally Accepted Standards - Panorama – Frank Skinner and RTS Huw
Wheldon lecture Comedy at the Crossroads (Discussion paper circulated)

Comments from the council included the following:
  • Bad language, an everyday part of young people’s world, and seen as the
    norm, was used for effect but the effect was diminished with overuse.
    Members felt this was unacceptable.
  • Bad language could be funny, particularly in standup and Shameless.
  • Members felt that even after the watershed, swearing was too prevalent in
    reality shows.
  • A member was shocked at the Jonathan Ross interview with John Barrowman
    which focused on Barrowman’s sexual practices, and an interview on
    Woman’s Hour where the presenter talked about sex toys.
  • One member felt the use of violent or sexualised language could have a
    detrimental effect on the health of a nation as it can brutalise people.
  • Violence may have a purpose and the use of violence on television was felt to
    be largely appropriate, but could, sometimes, be gratuitous.
  • Reality shows tended to reveal the darker side of society as being the norm,
    and most people felt that positive images were minimised.
  • Young teens watched Eastenders and Waterloo Road which were seen by some
    as dysfunctional: drugs, arson and gun crime was the norm.
  • Some members felt that the BBC should try to elevate people’s experience,
    try to lead by example and not succumb to bad language.
  • Some members felt that children up to the age of 10 should be protected
    from swearing, and images of war should be confined to News at Ten.
    Warnings before the programmes were useful as most people felt it was up
    to the BBC to make sure that programmes were available before 9pm which
    were not violent or used bad language.
  • One member felt it was not the duty of the BBC to censor what was
    broadcast and that responsibility lay with parents. It was important for the
    BBC to broadcast what was true about the world, and the BBC had the right
    to appal people if demonstrating a truth about society.
  • Some members felt that people tended to jump on the bandwagon and
    enjoyed being shocked.
  • Members felt that the BBC did not react well to criticism and felt that there
    was no consistency as to what sort of language was used.

   •   Members agreed that the watershed was becoming irrelevant with an
       increased use of iPlayer, felt there was sometimes a sudden increase in
       swearing and violence and suggested that a phased watershed could be useful.

Chair’s summary
Members felt that very sexually explicit material was out of place on the BBC, citing
Jonathan Ross’ interview with John Barrowman about his sexual practices, and
Women’s Hour broadcasting a piece on sexual aids during the school holidays. Some
members felt the BBC should set standards rather than reflect the current mores
and use of language in society, and considered it was important for the health of a
nation that language used on television was not violent or sexually aggressive. Other
members did not have a problem with violence or the use of bad language and felt
that it was the job of parents rather than the BBC, to censor our own and our
children’s viewing. All felt that context and time of broadcasting was important in
considering standards. There was a suggestion of introducing a gradual progression
to more adult programmes after the watershed rather than a sudden lurch to
violence and bad language directly after 9pm. The iPlayer meant that the watershed
notion would need considerable thought as it becoming increasingly irrelevant, and
difficult to impose.

(ii) Local Radio review - highlights from local radio link people

    • Radio Cumbria’s link person reported:
Radio Cumbria had a friendly family feeling with professional, competent and
entertaining presenters, expert commentators, and good community interaction. It
had a bright, easy to navigate website which covered local issues. The new mid
morning presenter Liz Rhodes was interesting, and attracted new, younger listeners.
What if week was well presented; people learned about emergencies and safety in
the region, and the recent snowy weather proved again how useful BBC Local Radio
could be in a crisis. The system of informing the public about school closures and bus
cancellations worked and catered for families, including children. Most head
teachers found the service invaluable. The lack of DAB, due to there being no local
multiplex available on which to broadcast Radio Cumbria, continued to be a concern.

        • BBC Radio Newcastle link person reported:
 The last few weeks were dominated by weather and the continuing credit crunch.
Snow coverage reports were useful although much of the Breakfast Show seemed to
be taken up with announcing school closures. There were a range of weather and
road reports from roving reporters out in the blizzards.
The feature on Alzheimer’s on the Breakfast Show was interesting and the credit
crunch featured, topics ranging from the continuing problems of local businesses to
the visit of Robert Peston. The football commentators gave members an
understanding of what was going on even if they don’t actually watch the games. The
Drivetime Show featured a good piece about Public Lending Right and the most
popular books borrowed through libraries. The Guest presenter week on the
Breakfast Show was inspired and members approved of the strong links to the RaW
Money campaign.

        • BBC Tees link person reported:
The mid-morning show’s Neil Green was an experienced and competent presenter
who worked with Diane Youdale to create content which was community focussed,
with wider issues discussed and given local relevance. Middlesbrough match
commentaries by Ali Brownlee were wonderful, and BBC Tees had not ignored the
credit crunch (unlike stations such as Galaxy, which seemed oblivious to reality).
Robert Peston took listeners’ calls on his role in breaking economic news and Tees
presenter John Foster tried to manage on £1 a day. The website carried lots of
interviews, was easy to navigate, and contained local news and ways to get involved.

BBC response
Music was carefully researched and selected with the target audience and this was
reflected in what was played. Local radio was trying to strike a balance between
local and regional issues, and the national picture. Presenters balancing familiarity
with explaining what was happening in the programme.
Radio was very robust at holding the audience, and digital platforms were not
impacting strongly on local radio and regional television. It would be useful to find
out what members thought about a political reporter for radio.
The BBC was concerned with partnerships and with supporting a UK wide media

Chair’s summary
The key features and strengths of local radio were weather, traffic, and news of local
relevance. Members were won over by the interesting range of subjects, breadth of
topics and depth of coverage. Breakfast programmes and football commentaries
were very strong, and people enjoyed learning about the local area and local
campaigns. Weaknesses included presenters who sometimes assumed prior
knowledge of their programmes and could appear amateurish, and local radio listings
which were poor. Some members liked the music policy although others found it
tedious and repetitive. .Members felt that future investment in local media
consumption was very important with work needed on how to reach out to younger
Local and regional media services were very important; the drop in ITV activity and
slow demise of newspapers meant that there was room for an enhanced radio
service and members suggested an Inside Out for local radio, and a local radio Politics
Show, could engage new audiences.
Public Purposes covered 1,2,3

The report was circulated before the meeting. Members approved the contents.

Head of Region’s Report
The report was circulated before the meeting. Phil Roberts highlighted the following
and asked members to watch My Strike, a BBC NE and Cumbria network
production, which aired on the 10th March on BBC 4 at 9pm, for a review at the
next meeting.
       • Radio had overall increased its reach.

       •  The Look North snow reports had attracted the highest ever audience.
       •  A DVD of Robert Peston’s visit to be sent to all members. The visit was
          a great success and was regarded as a prototype for future activity
          involving the wider BBC. Regional BBC is planning on doing something
          similar in Cumbria.
Action Carol to add My Strike to April agenda.

Audience Council England report
The draft notes were circulated before the meeting.
The chair highlighted the Impartiality Review and the England Accountability Review
results. There was a strong recommendation from RAC members and the chair that
the number of ACE and RAC meetings were the same.

ACE Submission to BBC Local PVT (for information)
Impartiality Review (for information)
Summary work Plan BBC Trust (for information)

The topic and venue are as yet to be decided but the event will be held on Tuesday
19 May.

Members asked that the chair press for iPlayer being extended to 14 days and to
include down loadable radio.

9. Date of next meeting: Tuesday 7 April 5.30 at BBC Newcastle with 12
 members attending a ‘Meet the BBC’ event on Tuesday 31 March at 5.30pm


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