News-Watch Reports

News-watch Survey – Summer 2008

On Monday 31 March 2008, Newswatch UK began a twelve-week investigation into Today’s coverage of European Union news and current affairs. Each edition of the programme was recorded, logged and archived in its entirety, and every item of relevance to the European Union or its relationship to the United Kingdom was fully transcribed.

The monitoring interval included the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on 12 June and the EU’s biannual European Council meeting on 19-20 June. Other significant EU issues to arise during the twelve week period included controversy surrounding MEP’s expenses, the re-emergence of a call for an EU-wide army, and the rise in the value of the euro against the pound.

Today Programme Survey, and response to BBC Independent Advisor’s Findings – Winter 2007

In November 2007, the BBC Trust published an Independent Editorial Adviser’s report into an appeal to the Editorial Standards Committee by Lord Pearson of Rannoch.[1] Lord Pearson’s initial complaint had been based on the findings of a previous Newswatch survey[2] undertaken in Autumn-Winter 2006, and the IEA report marked the first significant attempt by the BBC to engage with Newswatch’s methodology and survey data on anything more than a superficial level.  This survey addresses the findings of the IEA report, and also presents a fourteen-week survey of the Today programme, beginning on Monday 10 September 2007.

[1] Independent Editorial Advisers Considerations Regarding the Appeal to the Editoiral (sic) Standards Committee Concerning the Today Programme’s Coverage of Europe, From September to December 2006. BBC Trust.

[2] This survey was published under Newswatch’s previous name, Minotaur Media Tracking.

Today Programme Survey – Winter 2005

On Monday 24 October 2005, Minotaur Media Tracking began a nine week investigation into the Today programme’s coverage of European Union news and current affairs. Minotaur sought to establish whether the BBC’s charter requirements of broad impartiality and fairness were met by the Today programme in its coverage of European affairs, and whether the recommendations of the 2005 Wilson Report on the corporation’s EU coverage have been implemented by editors, presenters, and journalists.

Analysis of BBC2’s ‘How Euro are You?’ October 2005

Analysis of the live BBC2 programme ‘How Euro are You’, transmitted on October 3, 2005, was produced by Talent TV – devisors of the ‘Test the Nation’ format – in front of a studio audience and had at its core an interactive questionnaire, devised by the company in association with pollsters ICM, which set out to establish viewers’ attitudes towards “Europe”.

Survey of EU Coverage during the period of the UK General Election in June 2005

On Monday 7 March 2005, Minotaur Media Tracking began a fifteen-week investigation into the BBC’s coverage of European Union news and current affairs. Minotaur sought to establish whether EU-related stories were given adequate consideration by the corporation’s flagship news and current affairs programmes, and whether the BBC’s charter requirements of broad impartiality and fairness were met.  The fifteen-week monitoring period included four significant events:

UK General Election (May 5)

French Referendum on the Constitution (May 29)

Dutch Referendum on the Constitution (June 1)

EU Heads of government summit in Brussels (June 16/17)

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme was monitored for the whole fifteen weeks. On the formal announcement of the general election (April 5), monitoring was extended to include three additional programmes: Radio 4’s PM, the BBC1 10 O’Clock News, and BBC2’s Newsnight. These additional programmes were monitored until the Dutch referendum on June 1 – an interval of eight weeks and two days.  The following analysis will first consider each programme in turn, and then assess their coverage of the major EU events which occurred during the survey period. The final part of the analysis will provide overall totals for the entire survey.