EAST MIDLANDS REGIONAL AUDIENCE COUNCIL
BBC Radio Nottingham
Wednesday 19 May 2010
Phillippa Denton Chair and ACE Member
Paul Dickerson Nigel Hallam
Glennis Taylor Lillian Nevins
Jonathan English Bindu Modi
Brian Chance Pip Ostell
Adrian Morgan Sarah Furlong
Kate Shaw Esme Hodgkin
Stuart Thomas Head of Region and Local Programming
Carol Webster Public Accountability Manager
1. Welcome and introductions
The Chair welcomed everyone, particularly the new members and invited everyone to give a brief
2. Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising
There were two matters arising brought forward.
a) Members on Virgin Media who had been charged for taking part in the January conference call
had all been reimbursed.
b) CW had been following up the query regarding quarterly licence fee payments, and was still
waiting for responses.
The minutes were accepted as an accurate record.
3. Programme & service review
3.1 General Election coverage:
There was a full discussion on the coverage both national and local. Everyone had watched a large
proportion of the output, had listened to the local radio programmes, and visited the online
pages. A number had discussed the debates and the election night coverage with their networks
including some interactively with friends using social networking sites (Facebook and Twitter), as
well as following blogs.
The prime ministerial debates were discussed and it was felt that the BBC’s coverage came out as
being better presented if controlled. Some considered the debates were too long and too
‘American’. Others would have liked more detail on the three parties’ policies, and almost all
believed they were too ‘personality driven’ which detracted from the main points. However
members concluded that the debates had energised an audience otherwise disengaged from
politics and had brought politics into the forefront of the public domain. Most found this a
fascinating new medium in British politics.
Comparing the three debates, the BBC’s had been well controlled and accurate but too long, and
that David Dimbleby had been the best of the three presenters.
The social networking coverage was also discussed with around a quarter of members reporting
that Facebook was ‘buzzing with activity and real conversations’. A smaller group had also
followed the debates on Twitter and blogs with one member watching the TV broadcasts via the
internet. The First Time voters QT with Dermot O’Leary was commended by some who thought it
had been better than the usual QT. One member not old enough to vote discussed the coverage
with friends and reported that they found the debates boring, and the politicians waffled. She felt
that there should have been more explanation of the electoral process for young people and first
time voters who would have been aware of the elections for the first time.
In general the coverage had showed very clearly how knowledgeable the political reporters were,
and particularly Laura Kuenssberg and Nick Robinson.
The Chair asked if the coverage had swayed anyone’s voting intentions. Most said that they
already knew how they would vote and had not been influenced, but for a small number the
coverage had influenced their voting.
All members felt the celebrity boat party on election night was irritating and unnecessary.
Comments on the debates included the following:
• They were too ‘American’ and too controlled.
• Brought politics to the forefront and into the public domain.
• They were exciting at first but became boring when it became a personality debate.
• The debates didn’t contribute to understanding the three parties’ policies.
• The media asked the right questions and brought out the concerns.
• Too much focus on personalities.
• Terribly stage managed, cold
• Well controlled, well presented, got people thinking about democracy and how we elect
our leaders. The whole process was fascinating.
• Energised an audience that was disengaged with politics.
Regional TV debate: 27 April.
The majority of members hadn’t watched the regional debate as they had not been aware of them.
Most said they would have watched had they known, and suggested that they should have been
trailed more in advance. Those who had seen the debate noted that the audience was mainly
white and nobody from a minority group was selected to ask a question.
There were three debates on each local radio station which some members had had the
opportunity to listen to. The impact of the new political reporter at Radio Derby was appreciated
and had enriched its coverage.
3.2 Local Radio – link reports
The local radio link members updated their submitted reports with the following:
BBC Radio Nottingham: the link member added that the station was involved in the Breathing
Spaces Bee Part of It events; she reported on the Reach Out results; and congratulated Frances
Finn, mid morning presenter at BBC Radio Nottingham, who was awarded Speech Radio
Personality of the Year at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.
BBC Radio Derby: the link member reported on the Community Champions Awards which took
place at the Derby Rams stadium and had been a very successful evening. He congratulated Radio
Derby on winning the Sony Station of the Year award. One member asked for information about
the awards and the Head of Region explained that these were the radio industry awards and that
to enter radio stations submitted two half hour tapes of highlights from the year and from a
nominated day. These were then collated by an independent committee from the radio and
broadcasting industry. Committees were vetted to make sure they are balanced and not biased.
Members felt that it was gratifying that year on year the East Midlands region won either Sony or
Gillard awards. The RAC’s congratulations were recorded.
There was no report from Radio Leicester as a new link member is being recruited.
4.1 Head of Region’s report
The HRLP’s report had been circulated with the papers for the meeting. He added that the
RAJARs had been published since his report was written and that Local Radio figures had risen
back to 7.8 million in the last quarter possibly as a result of the snow earlier in the year. It was
hoped that the listeners who came to local radio at this time (called utility listeners) would stay
and become loyal listeners. He reported that Radio Derby was now the fifth most listened to
station in the country, Radio Nottingham’s figures were up, but Radio Leicester had had a slight
decline possibly due to the regular presenter being on long term sick leave. He noted that the half
hour documentary on Frank Whittle as part of the History of the World series got the highest share
in the country.
He also reported that the core music offering for local radio had changed recently following
Richard Addy’s report which said that the music was too young and that the Beatles were back on
the playlist. One member would have liked a larger share of music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
The HRLP informed members of major changes in the local commercial radio stations. He also
advised the meeting that the Politics Show would be taking a break, Inside Out was off until
September and that EMT was doing well against its competitors.
4.2 Chair’s Report
The Chair’s report had been sent out to members and PMD invited questions.
She explained that George Dixon (Head of Scheduling, BBC Vision) had attended the ACE strategy
meeting on 12 May and there had been a discussion on Late Kick Off, focusing on the RACs’
concerns about the transmission time and the fact that this changed regularly. He said he was
talking to English Regions about this. Alison Hastings had also raised this with Mark Byford.
Further feedback to ACE was expected.
The Chair invited questions on the draft April ACE minutes; there were no questions from
She informed the meeting about the planned ACE Seminar in Exeter at the beginning of August
that she would be attending along with three members, who had been selected randomly. These
were Bindu, Belinda and Adrian. There would be feedback at the September meeting.
5. Trust business & feedback
5.1 STRATEGY REVIEW –
Mostly members were happy with the five priorities saying that the BBC needed to be aspirational.
The priorities related satisfactorily to the Public Purposes. They were considered to be broad
aspirations to strive for, but apart from children’s content, it was thought that they could all be
grouped together. Some members questioned what was meant by the best journalism and how
this would be measured. Others felt that it was laudable that outstanding content for children was
one of the priorities but would have liked to have seen something that specifically referred to
older people. Their feeling was that the offering for older people was poor, particularly daytime
TV and that people of a certain generation objected to bad language and crudity.
It was questioned whether the priorities were achievable.
Members would like to see the following added to the priorities:
• Provision for older people to reflect generational preferences
• Outstanding educational content
• UK produced original children’s content
There were concerns that schedules would still have to be filled and “doing fewer things and doing
them better” might result in more repeats.
It was accepted that some things had to go. There was little knowledge or appreciation of some
of the services suggested for cutting. One young member knew about BBC Switch, but did not
watch and none of the people in her Facebook group did either. The lack of awareness was
possibly due to the timing of the programme. There was also little awareness of Blast! Concerns
regarding the lack of original British content on Channel Four were expressed as this was
proposed as the leading channel for teens and young adults. It was suggested that BBC Three did
offer some content for this group.
There was some disquiet at the proposed reductions to BBC online. It was noted that that the
BBC website is one of the most trusted and it was not clear if the 25% reduction would have an
effect on this. One member asked if the ‘doubling of the number of “click throughs” to external
sites’ would encourage commercial advertisers therefore impacting on the impartiality of the BBC.
Members wanted to see the above suggested priorities included.
5.2 Science Impartiality Review: the Chair noted that there was a possibility of the Council
being asked to take part in this and agreed to keep the RAC updated.
6. Outreach - Thursday 17 June
CW gave a verbal update.
The three topics for discussion were:
1. What do you want from the BBC?
2. Localness – what does it mean for audiences?
3. General Election coverage
The venue for the event was still to be confirmed but she hoped that it would be New College
Nottingham (NCN). Members were asked to invite guests from their networks and CW would
also ask NCN to invite staff and students to attend. Ideally attendance including RAC members
should be around 30 – 35 people.
7. Burning issues – Delivering the purposes and matters of trust
There were no burning issues.
8. Any other Business
1. A member suggested that receiving a copy of the Radio Times would be more beneficial
than Ariel. CW and the Chair explained that the cost of this would be prohibitive.
2. Another member had visited the Big Bang Tent in Nottingham recently and reported that it
had been a fantastic experience.
3. It was suggested that the vacancy for a new presenter for The One Show should be filled by
4. Update of website biogs: CW circulated biogs and asked that members check and approve
them for the website along with new photos
5. The Weakest Link:
The Chair explained that this had been raised by the South RAC which had asked for the other
Members’ views were split with one half saying the programme promoted bullying and the other
half disagreeing. Those who felt the presenter was not ‘bullying’ said that the contestants were
aware of what they had signed up to, much like those who applied to compete in The Apprentice.
One member agreed that the host was not politically correct which she thought was ‘great for a
change’. They also didn’t see a problem with the timing and although for some the programme
was past its sell by date, others felt that it was a good quiz show.
Those who believed that the programme promoted bullying were concerned that the manner in
which the presenter spoke to contestants was inappropriate, particularly in her use of sexual
innuendo. People found this either boring or embarrassing. It also raised questions about the
transmission time as children would be watching who might think that this behaviour was
acceptable. One member did a straw poll in his network which had concluded that the
programme promoted bullying. Another discussed this with her Facebook group and found that
no one watched the programme as they didn’t like the presenter and had better things to do.
In the main the majority felt that the programme had run its course. Although they acknowledged
that the contestants ‘knew what they were letting themselves in for’, the overriding feeling was
that the tone of the programme was inappropriate and could be seen to promote bullying. The
humour wasn’t clever but in fact was very disrespectful and demeaning. Most said they had liked
the programme at some point but didn’t watch anymore.
9. Date of next event:
Outreach – Thursday 17 June 2010. Two apologies were given in advance.
[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