REGIONAL AUDIENCE COUNCIL BBC SOUTH
Broadcasting House, Southampton
Minutes of meeting held on Monday 21 February 2011
Rob Fryatt Chair
Phil Harrold Head of Governance, BBC Trust
Jason Horton Head of Region, BBC South
(Part of meeting)
Frances Bryant Public Accountability Manager
APOLOGIES had been received from Pat Johns. Sam Bannister was not at the
1. Welcome and introductions
Rob Fryatt welcomed everyone to the meeting, and introduced Phil Harrold,
Head of Governance, BBC Trust.
Rob extended the councils’ congratulations to Jason Horton and team for the
recent success for the region at the RTS Awards.
2. Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising
The minutes were approved as being a true record.
There was one outstanding action point – Celsio D’Souza’s meeting with the
new Managing Editor, BBC Berkshire.
3. Programme & Service Review
3.1 What were your TV & Radio highlights in 2010?
Members’ selections were wide ranging: Who Do You Think You Are? (both the
American and British version), Masterchef, Dr Who, Sherlock Holmes, Strictly Come
Dancing, Top Gear, Railways Journey’s (with Michael Portillo), Zen, Coast, Spooks, Hairy
Bikers, Casualty, Total Wipe Out, Springwatch, Upstairs Downstairs, Wallender, Ashes
to Ashes, QI, Larkrise to Candleford, Tormented Lives (documentary presented by Rosa
On Radio, highlights included the Complete Mozart (Radio 3); drama on Radio 4,
I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and other programmes in the 6.30pm comedy slot;
History of the World in 100 Objects; the entertainment of Chris Evans on Radio 2.
There was praise for the programmes in the build up to the World Cup, and the
football coverage, despite England’s performance! Local sports coverage on Local
Radio and regional TV was also praised.
BBC News, including coverage of the general election and political reporting -
national, regional and local and also online, was considered to be of high quality
and professionally presented.
2010 had been a good year with distinctive, creative and original, high quality
programmes hitting many of the public purposes. Members enjoyed the drama
which had been dynamic and they had enjoyed the mix of foreign drama shown
on BBC 4.
Members called for fewer ‘low-end’ programmes – Cash in the Attic, Flog It,
Bargain Hunt etc. and some members would welcome more short films from film
festivals perhaps to be used as ‘fillers’.
3.2 Digital Audio Broadcasting
1 & 2. All the members could access digital radio. They had also canvassed about
30 people from their networks. Approximately 50% accessed via a digital radio,
the other half via online.
3. The majority were listening to national services – 6 Music, Five Live, Planet
Rock, Radios 2, 4 & 7. One member made the following observation of his
network feedback – of those listening on DAB radios they tended to listen to
Digital stations only (eg Absolute 80s) but those listening online listened to
stations also broadcast on FM.
One member listened to local radio because reception was better (Radio Solent
in Dorset), and another could listen to a specific programme on Radio Berkshire,
although out of their editorial area.
4. People had very different reception experiences, the following quotes come
from members and their networks: ‘my expectations are high but it is poor,
reception is very patchy – Southsea (Nr Portsmouth); ‘On the Hampshire/Surrey
border the signal is good’, but ‘two friends in Lancashire have returned their
DAB radios because the reception was so poor’;
‘The variety of channels is great however the coverage/signal is poor, I live in
Hillingdon (London) and coverage is hit and miss. I walk/jog with a portable DAB
player and the signal keeps dropping out.’
Few people said they would get a digital radio for their car – FM coverage and
reception was good. One person who had had a DAB radio in their car said they
‘didn’t miss it when they changed the car.’
5. One member found his networks split along age lines – under 35s liked the
technology and used it, over 35s preferred conventional radios which ‘worked
fine for them’.
One person suggested ‘if technology would allow people to convert their
current radios they would be more interested’ they weren’t keen on buying new.
Many people listened to their radio in the car – DAB presented a challenge to
the motor industry.
3.3 Local Radio Link Reports
BBC Berkshire: Celsio D’Souza continued to tune in regularly to Radio Berkshire
and considered the content to be strong and relevant to the county. The range
of topics was both interesting and informative and the overall sound of the
station was ‘up beat’. The Breakfast Show picked up genuinely local issues and
national issues were discussed in a local context.
Sports coverage was considered excellent. The success of the evening show was
often reliant on the guest although there was no doubting the presenter’s
Larissa Johnson considered herself ‘almost’ a convert to Berkshire, she had
mixed views about the content of the morning show – for example, how
mothers coped with still-births was not felt to be an appropriate subject for the
morning; however, guest Jane Asher was a big hit. There was a call for the traffic
news to be even more local.
BBC Oxford: Peter Wyatt said he had found a fan of the station who listened
regularly, liked the morning team, but felt the content of local news focused too
much on hospital/health stories. There had been changes to the schedules and
with a new managing editor it was considered too early to comment on the
People had noted a brighter/livelier presentation style to the local TV news opt.
BBC Solent: Both Sarah Ralph and Gerry Smyth reported on their listening to Solent.
Both were complimentary about the mid-morning presenter, any early concerns
seem to have been allayed and he was providing some good content and
interviews. There was praise for presenters throughout the day, and long-term
listeners were pleased to hear some of the familiar voices from the past
returning to the weekend schedule.
3.4 Regional Programmes
Late Kick Off: Members, who enjoyed this programme, liked the new presenter; they
liked the fact that the programme looked beyond the premiership clubs and did
not concentrate on results. One criticism was that the programme tried to ‘cram
too much in’, and it sometimes seemed a little rushed. Everyone agreed it was
good to have it in a fixed slot.
Impact Funded Programmes:
LapLand New Forest - Members praised the special programme that took
viewers behind the scenes of the controversial Christmas theme park which had
closed and the subsequent prosecution of the owners. The programme was
excellent and members noted the story came to light when a listener had called
Radio Solent to express her disappointment with the park.
The other impact funded programmes: – Anniversary of the Battle of Britain; Fit and
Proper Persons – covering the financial problems at Portsmouth Football Club;
What Will The Olympics Do For us? - covering Weymouth and Portland’s place in
2012, were praised and members considered the programmes to be of value. It
was agreed that some of these programmes should be broadcast nationally,
members would like to see programmes from other regions.
4.1 Head of Region’s Report
Jason Horton added the following to his report:
RAJAR - Radio listening figures had been released, with success for Berkshire –
figures up year on year; and Solent – 31,000 more listening this year. Oxford’s
figures were disappointing, and the recent schedule changes would take a while
to impact on future figures, but there had been a positive reaction to the changes
Inside Out had had a good run, and a recent story about rickets in young children
on the Isle of Wight had been picked up nationally.
South Today – 50th Anniversary. Members had enjoyed the archive material and
coverage celebrating the 50th anniversary.
There was a short discussion about coverage of public service cuts and in
particular the One Wight Campaign, people on the Island felt the campaign had
not been given enough importance. It was noted that it had been mentioned on
the Politics Show. Jason explained that editors were being careful not to take
cut-related stories in isolation but to bring them together – using case studies
were appropriate. The One Wight Campaign had been followed and would
feature again in a future Politics Show.
4.2 Chair’s Report
Audience Council England (December) – Rob drew members attention to the
comments made by Ben Stevenson, Drama Commissioner and Danny Cohen,
Controller BBC One.
At the January ACE meeting, Mark Thompson, BBC Director General was the
dinner guest. Areas discussed included the Licence Fee settlement; the
proportion of spend in England – relative cost per licence fee payer; regionalism
and the feeling of localness, community and a sense of place.
5. Annual Report (Draft)
Members were invited to comment on the draft report.
6. Trust Business and Feedback
Phil Harrold outlined the situation regarding the appointment of the new BBC
Chairman. The Trust was still awaiting formal confirmation that Lord Patten was
the Government's preferred candidate for the role of Chairman (despite all the
newspaper coverage over the weekend).
Then, for the first time the select committee will have a 'pre-appointment
hearing' with the Government's preferred candidate for the post of BBC
Chairman. This will take place on 10th March. Following the hearing the
committee will write a report to the Secretary of State setting out their view
about the candidate's suitability and this report will inform Jeremy Hunt's
The appointment will then go through to Number 10 and the Privy Council and
officially signed off by Her Majesty the Queen ahead of the formal
Phil outlined his role within the Trust Unit and his new responsibility for the
nations and regions with the Heads of Governance and Accountability (eg Louise
Hall) reporting directly to him. With this new responsibility he was interested to
see how the RAC’s fitted into the structure and how this compared with the
audience structure in other parts of the UK, also understanding the different
types of feedback and the impact this had on the Trust.
Members briefly discussed portrayal within programmes. What one person
thinks represents part of the UK, may be of no interest to others, but this was
not a reason for not doing it – it was important not to focus on something from
just one central view.
Phil informed members that the Trust’s review of science was due to report in
the next month. ACTION: Frances to inform members when the report is
6.1 Trust Service Reviews 2011 – 2012
The service licence reviews for the year were circulated to members.
Radio 5 Live – ACE would review the service licence for Radio 5 Live with
one/two representatives from each RAC. Sarah Ralph volunteered to be the
local representative. More details would be available in March/April.
Local Radio – would form the main focus for the RACs in the coming year, and
would be the topic for the June outreach.
6.2 Licence Fee Settlement commissioning note
This was a letter from Chairman, Sir Michael Lyons to Mark Thompson, Director
General setting out four priority areas to underpin action following the
settlement. It was part of the Putting Quality First (PQF) implementation.
6.3 Audience Councils Day
This event marks the end of the annual business cycle and identifies the audience
priorities which either feed into the Trust’s work plan for 2011/12 or are
referred to the Director General for comment.
6.4 Audience Council England Terms of Reference.
Members’ attention was drawn to the terms and conditions of the Councils, with
the Regional Audience Councils as an annex to the four national councils. The
RACs provided a unique insight into the views of licence fee payers across
England and the Channel Islands.
7.1 November Outreach – the final report, approved by ACE, was circulated.
7.2 Outreach for 2011
As already highlighted this would be the Local Radio Service Licence Review
which was one of the BBC Trust’s Reviews for the year.
8. Burning issues
No issues were raised.
9. Any Other Business
9.1 Recruitment Update
The recruitment campaign had been very successful and interviews would take
place in early March. The council had five vacancies.
9.2 HD Monitoring
Peter Wyatt and Jane Johnson agreed to monitor the output.
EastEnders ‘baby-swop’ story-line Members briefly discussed the story, which many
considered a step too far. One member felt the talk was more about the
controversy rather than the issue.
10. Farewell to retiring members
Rob extended sincere thanks to Honorine, for her commitment to the council,
attendance and support at outreach events – her contributions to discussions
has been fair and robust plus valuable observations and feedback from her
network and groups. Rob also thanked, in their absence, Pat Johns and Sam
Bannister, once again both had been valued members and their contributions
would be missed.
A presentation was made.
11. Date of next meeting:
Tuesday 3 May 2011
[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.]