The BBC has suffered from lapses in impartiality in its coverage of business by seeking to popularise corporate stories and take the consumer's point of view, according to an independent report published yesterday. The Money Programme, Radio Five Live and the 10 O'Clock News are among the programmes singled out for criticism in the report on the impartiality of BBC business coverage. The study was commissioned by the BBC Trust from a panel chaired by the economist Sir Alan Budd.
Critics have accused the BBC of "dumbing down" its business coverage and failing to represent the shareholders' and employees' perspective on corporate stories. The report said that if companies record large profits, stories tend to focus on the negative aspects, rather than "examining the benefits to staff and society of a British company doing well".
"The need to attract and maintain an audience has led to some changes in the approach taken by business programmes towards a more popular style. In some quarters this is welcomed but in others it is viewed as 'dumbing down'. "We particularly noted this trend in the Money Programme. " Five Live was also singled out for focusing on consumer interests in business stories, and for presenters and reporters giving personal views.
The BBC is considering its response to the report. It was also warned to be careful over blogs. "We noted that the business editor made a scathing attack in his blog on the newly launched Microsoft Vista operating system. This appeared to be against the BBC's guidelines which state that blogs are subject to the same level of editorial care as other content," the report said.
Report from today's Guardian, full report via this link. Now will the BBC Trust commission a similar report on Radio 3?
For more on this read You are looking at the future of radio.
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