BBC News Channel. Part l: Key characteristics of the service

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1 BBC News Channel Part l: Key characteristics of the service This service licence describes the most important characteristics of BBC News Channel, including how it contributes to the BBC s public purposes. Service Licences are the core of the BBC s governance system. They aim to provide certainty for audiences and stakeholders about what each BBC service should provide. The Trust uses service licences as the basis for its performance assessment and as the basis for its consideration of any proposals for change to the UK public services from the BBC Executive. A service may not change in a way that breaches its service licence without Trust approval. The Trust presumes that any proposed change to a stated Key Characteristic of a licence will require it to undertake a Public Value Test. Should it decide not to carry out a Public Value Test before approving any such change, then it must publish its reasons in full. 1. Remit BBC News Channel should deliver up-to-the-minute, accurate, impartial and independent news, analysis and insight. It should provide fast and comprehensive coverage of local, UK and international events as they unfold and specialist analysis to put the news in context. 2. Scope of this Licence BBC News Channel should be available for 24 hours every day. It should be transmitted free to air for reception in the UK as a live broadcast on digital television and it may be simulcast on fixed and mobile internet protocol networks. It may also offer its broadcast content on fixed and mobile internet protocol networks or via other platforms 1 for seven days after it has been broadcast. On the same platforms, it may allow users retrospectively or prospectively via pre-booking to download multiple episodes of first-run series (known as series stacking ) 2 until a date no later than seven days after the last episode in the relevant series. The aggregate volume of such "series stacked" content must represent no more than 15% of all television content offered on demand. On the internet, it may give users 30 days after downloading the content to access it for the first time and may allow users to repeatedly consume downloaded content for up to seven days after first access. 1 In accordance with the Trust s Syndication Policy for BBC on-demand content. 2 Programmes may be series stacked if the series has a distinct run with a beginning and an end and a clear narrative arc or if it has exceptionally high impact. 1

2 It should offer programme-related content on bbc.co.uk. 3 Some programmes should have interactive television features available on digital platforms. 3. Service budget BBC News Channel has a service budget of 53 million in 2013/14. Any planned or actual change in annual expenditure on the service of more than 10% in real value requires approval from the BBC Trust and may entail variation of this Service Licence. 4. Overview of aims and objectives BBC News Channel programmes should exhibit some or all of the following characteristics: high quality, innovative, engaging, original and challenging, and it should nurture UK talent. BBC News Channel should deliver its remit by drawing on the BBC s newsgathering operations across the UK and around the world to provide accessible, fast, comprehensive news coverage and context based on the BBC s values of accuracy, impartiality and independence. Use of shared resources with other BBC news operations should bring financial benefits. It should offer a comprehensive news service each hour, including sport, and clear, comprehensive weather updates from across the UK. There should be a news summary on the half hour. BBC News Channel should aim to deliver breaking news first and, wherever possible, immediately but not to the detriment of accuracy. In the event of significant breaking news, BBC News Channel may also be broadcast on BBC One or BBC Two. It should offer a service of regular updates on breaking stories and there should be significant live coverage. But the distinctiveness of BBC News Channel should lie in its ambition to offer a broad, varied, serious and analytical news agenda with strong coverage of the UK, from across the UK and from the rest of the world including Europe. It should cover a wide range of stories, particularly in-depth coverage of international affairs and events in the UK s nations and regions, going beyond the headlines and bringing important stories to air that do not receive widespread coverage elsewhere. As well as reporting stories, it should explain them clearly, using current affairs background and information, and graphics and analysis by specialists to enhance viewers understanding. Built programming should be high quality and distinctive. BBC News Channel should use digital and interactive technologies to reach the widest possible audience, and should continue to explore new and emerging 3 This includes the offer of some news and current affairs output on-demand for an unlimited time period after initial broadcast. Any expansion of this offering will require the approval of the BBC Trust. 2

3 technologies with the aim of delivering greater value to audiences and of supporting the BBC s public purposes. 3

4 Part II: Contribution to public value 5. Contribution to the promotion of the BBC s public purposes 5.1 Sustaining citizenship and civil society BBC News Channel should make a very important contribution to this purpose amongst its audience by providing accurate, impartial and independent news and analysis. It should broadcast a comprehensive news service each hour, including sport and weather updates, plus a news summary on the half hour. It should always aim to be truthful and fair, exploring multiple viewpoints and giving voice to a wide range of opinions. BBC News Channel s parliamentary reporting should include significant debates and parliamentary occasions as well as live coverage of Prime Minister s Questions. The Prime Minister s monthly press conference should also be covered live. Beyond Westminster, the channel should cover key speeches from the party conferences. This coverage should extend beyond the major parties a matter of particular significance for audiences in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. BBC News Channel s coverage of European politics should aim to explain EU institutions and their work through live coverage and reporting by specialist correspondents. BBC News Channel should promote debate by encouraging its viewers to interact with the channel, to comment on issues and to put their questions to experts and those in authority. It should augment its news coverage with user-generated content (such as video, still images and messages submitted by viewers), subject to use of appropriate editorial controls. It should make it as simple as possible for audiences to contribute. 5.2 Bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK BBC News Channel should make an important contribution to this purpose amongst its audience, primarily by bringing the world to the UK, by offering comprehensive and in-depth coverage of world affairs, with a wide range of international stories in its regular coverage. Its distinctive agenda should be supported by the BBC s international newsgathering bureaux and correspondents who can offer an international context to events and underlying issues. BBC News Channel should include a range of international voices across the output, including in-depth interviews with significant figures. 4

5 Conditions BBC News Channel should: Feature more international news coverage than the other main continuous news channel(s) in the UK 5.3 Reflecting the UK s nations, regions and communities BBC News Channel should make an important contribution to this purpose amongst its audience by offering strong and diverse coverage, regularly using BBC correspondents based in national and regional newsrooms. When covering major UK stories, BBC News Channel should reflect the fact that news stories may impact differently in different parts of the country, by seeking to feature perspectives or examples from across the UK. BBC News Channel should cover UK politics across the schedule, including proceedings of the devolved Parliament and Assemblies. It should also cover all UK by-election campaigns and results. Opinion should be sought not only from politicians but also from groups such as business people, trades unions, academics, pressure groups and the public. Viewers should have the opportunity to put questions to the channel s guests when appropriate. BBC News Channel should provide coverage of cultural events of significance to the UK, its nations and regions, and internationally. It should also report sports news throughout the day, with sports news every hour and a round-up of the day s main sports stories every evening. Conditions BBC News Channel should: Feature more local and regional news coverage than the other main continuous news channel(s) in the UK, in part through giving regional perspectives to national stories Report sports news throughout the day, rounding up the day s main sports stories every evening, delivering at least 100 hours of sports news each year 5.4 Promoting education and learning BBC News Channel should play its part in delivering this purpose to its audience via the provision of trusted news and information on a range of topics such as business and economics, personal finance, science and technology, religion, arts and culture. 5

6 5.5 Emerging communications The BBC s sixth public purpose is defined in the Charter as "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". BBC News Channel should contribute to the promotion of this purpose in a variety of ways which are described in this Service Licence. 6

7 6. Annexes to this Licence 6.1 Annex I Performance assessment The performance of BBC News Channel will be assessed by the Trust using the framework described in Annex I. BBC News Channel s compliance with any Conditions, as described in section 5, will also be measured on an annual basis and reported in the Annual Report and Accounts. The BBC Trust will expect BBC News Channel to comply with the commitments described in sections 4 and 5 of the Service Licence. The BBC Trust will monitor compliance with these commitments retrospectively as part of its periodic service reviews and/or on an exceptional basis if there is evidence or allegation of noncompliance Annex II - Statutory commitments Details of statutory quotas and other obligations to be fulfilled by BBC News Channel, in conjunction with other BBC services, are set out in Annex II. 7

8 Annex I: Performance measurement framework The BBC Trust has the function of assessing the performance of the Executive Board in delivering the BBC s services and activities and holding the Executive Board to account for its performance. 4 It uses the framework described below as the basis for its assessment of BBC News Channel. The framework uses a range of metrics based around the four drivers of public value: Quality Reach Impact Value for money. The Trust can amend this framework without this constituting formal variation to this Service Licence. 4 Charter, article 24 (c) 8

9 Annex II: Statutory commitments In addition to its Service Licence Conditions and commitments, BBC News Channel contributes to the fulfilment of a number of statutory commitments each calendar year. The exact level of each annual commitment is published by the BBC in its Statement of Programme Policy each year. A minimum percentage of all hours must be originations (original productions include all BBC-commissioned programming, excluding repeats of programming first shown on another BBC public service channel) In conjunction with other BBC network television services, a minimum proportion of relevant programme production budgets (excluding news), representing a proportion of hours of productions by volume, must be spent outside the M25 9

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