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    David Cameron and George Osborne of questioned the impartiality of the BBC after "hyperbolic" coverage of the autumn statement.

    The Chancellor condemned the corporation for its "unfair" portrayal of yesterday's announcements and Downing Street said the Prime Minster was also critical of the way it had been handled.

    It followed a report on Radio 4's Today programme that claimed Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) assessments read "like a book of doom" and suggested the country was heading "back to the land of Road to Wigan Pier" - George Orwell's bleak 1930s account of poverty and division.

    A clearly irritated Chancellor later attacked the coverage as "nonsense" in a tetchy interview with presenter John Humphrys.

    "When I woke up this morning and turned on the Today programme, I felt like I was listening to a rewind of 2010 - you had BBC correspondents saying Britain is returning to a George Orwell world of the Road To Wigan Pier," he said.

    "It is just such nonsense.

    "I thought the BBC would have learnt over the past four years that its totally hyperbolic coverage of spending cuts has not been matched by what has actually happened."

    He went on: "What I reject is the totally hyperbolic BBC coverage of spending reductions.

    "I had all that when you were interviewing me four years ago and has the world fallen in?

    "No, it hasn't.

    "Government departments are going to have to make savings.

    "On the welfare bill we are going to have to do things like freeze working-age benefits.

    "I'm not pretending these are easy decisions or that they have no impact.

    "But the alternative of a return to economic chaos, of not getting on top of your debts, of people looking at Britain across the world and thinking that is not a country in charge of its own destiny, is not a world that I want to deliver."

    The programme had opened with a report from Norman Smith, the BBC's assistant political editor, who said the OBR's report was "utterly terrifying".

    He said: "While there was a lot of enthusiasm on the Conservative benches and political joy at a lot of the popular measures ... when you sit down and read the Office for Budget Responsibility report it reads, frankly, like a book of doom.

    "It is utterly terrifying, it is suggesting that spending will have to be hacked back to the levels of the 1930s in terms of as a proportion of GDP.

    "That is an extraordinary concept, you're back to the land of Road to Wigan Pier."

    Downing Street said Cameron agreed the coverage was "hyperbolic".

    The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "He certainly does agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    "Let me explain why.

    "I think the Chancellor made an important point on this, which is I don't think that characterisations such as, I think if I heard it right, the Road To Wigan Pier or, I think I may also have heard, a reference to at least parts of the Autumn Statement are like being a book of doom, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor do think those are hyperbolic descriptions.

    "I don't think that they help us have what is important here, which is a clear and sensible and measured debate about the decisions that both are being taken and need to be taken in the future.

    "So, the Prime Minister very much shares the Chancellor's view."

    He added: "Just as it is important to say, as the Chancellor did, that those types of references are hyperbolic descriptions and I'm not sure help the type of debate we need, it's also right to say that what the Prime Minister, Chancellor and others are focused on is their plan and explaining why their approach is the right one.

    "So, that is what they are going to continue to do."

    A BBC spokeswoman said: "We're satisfied our coverage and analysis has been fair and balanced and we gave the Chancellor plenty of opportunity to respond on the Today programme. The BBC takes its responsibility for impartial coverage very seriously. It is the duty of all journalists to ask politicians difficult questions. We will keep asking them. We'll undoubtedly get more criticism from across the political spectrum as the election gets closer, but we'll keep doing our job.”


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    BBC News has 321 editors, according to information released under the Freedom of Information Act.

    The corporation's news division, which comprises 7,598 staff, also has 173 staff with "director" in their job title.

    The BBC was asked under FoI to say how many job titles in the news division contain these words and others.

    Fewer than half of BBC News staff - 3,472 - have "journalist" in their job title.

    In all, the FoI (which can duplicate individuals) found there are 826 assistants, 363 producers and 57 heads.

    Some 14 people have "change" in their job titles, 12 have "controller", six have "coordinating" and 16 have "coordinator".

    In addition, there are 34 deputies, 20 executives, six managers and six people with "managing" in their titles.

    The BBC employs more than 100 staff earn more than Prime Minister David Cameron, including a number of people in the news division.

    They include: director of news and current affairs James Harding (salary £340,000), his deputy Fran Unsworth (£183,000), head of newsroom Mary Hockaday (£142,814), head of newsgathering Jonathan Munro ( £165,000) and managing editor Keith Blackmore (£160,000). 


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    Quality of management, bullying and recruitment processes have been flagged up as areas of "real concern" in BBC News following a staff survey.

    Director of News and Current Affairs James Harding yesterday told his division that "there are clearly many problems, frustrations and uncertainties" to address after the results of the survey, completed at the end of 2014, were returned.

    Press Gazette has seen results for the BBC as a whole and for BBC News, which is the corporation's biggest division with around 7,600 staff out of nearly 20,000.

    Some 31 per cent of news division staff who filled out the survey believe that "there are fair, open processes for filling internal vacancies". This compares with 38 per cent of respondents who believed this in the corporation as a whole.

    These figures come after the BBC has faced criticism for the way it has recruited certain high-profile journalists.

    The appointments of Lucy Manning and Ed Campbell from ITN last summer sparked outrage among BBC News staff who were informed soon afterwards of 415 redundancies.

    More recently, Press Gazette understands some insiders felt "a great deal of unhappiness" about the way journalists were recruited to work on Victoria Derbyshire's new BBC Two programme, announced this week.

    Bullying was flagged up as another area for concern in both the News division in particular, and across the corporation.

    Harding revealed that 34 per cent of his staff "have confidence that, if they experienced or saw bullying or harassment, taking action would have a positive outcome". This compared with 42 per cent across the BBC.

    Elsewhere, 34 per cent of News staff "have confidence in decisions made by the BBC Executive Team and the Divisional Leadership Team" compared with 42 per cent across the corporation as a whole.

    And 35 per cent of the News division "feel fairly rewarded through pay, benefits and flexible options" compared with 38 per cent overall.

    Harding told staff in an email seen by Press Gazette: “[T]here are areas of real concern. It’s been a time of great change across News and there are clearly many problems, frustrations and uncertainties we need to address.”

    He added: “We also asked an extra question: what one thing would make News Group a better place? We received a wide range of responses but the biggest single theme was wanting to see better management of BBC News so this is clearly an area where we need to focus our attention.”

    The highest scores in the News division were: 93 per cent “feel they demonstrate the BBC values in the way they work”, 91 per cent “are proud to work for the BBC”, 77 per cent “understand the BBC’s strategy and objectives”, and 75 per cent “feel your line manager treats you with respect”.

    Staff across the corporation were also sent an email from HR director Valerie Hughes-D’Aeth, who highlighted similar areas for concern to Harding.

    She said: “It is very heartening to see that 91% of you are proud to work at the BBC and that 90% are prepared to put in extra effort to help us deliver great programmes and services. Other questions that you scored very highly are that your line manager treats you with respect (80%) and that you understand the BBC’s strategy and objectives (79%).”

    She added: “There are however other areas that scored less positively and that we need to focus more attention on. These include managing performance and demonstrating that our processes for filling vacancies are fair and transparent.”

    Some 47 per cent of staff said they believed “the BBC is doing the right things to ensure that it improves value for money through more efficient and open BBC”.

    Hughes-D’Aeth said 55 per cent of staff (13,181) staff filled out the survey, as did 46 per cent (1,558) of freelances and contractors.

    A spokesman said: “Like many companies the BBC conducts regular staff surveys to understand the issues that matter to our employees. We are pleased that so many staff are proud to work at the BBC and say they are committed to putting in extra effort to deliver programmes for our audiences. We score the better than other UK companies in 15 of the 19 categories where there is a UK benchmark and we’re working hard on improving our scores further.”


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    • 'Future of News' report: 'Parts of the country are not properly reported'
    • Says BBC may need to explore asking foreign audiences to 'fund its future' on global scale
    • Under 'tone' heading study notes: Vice News's 'pace of growth is really quite remarkable'

    BBC News should seek to improve its local news coverage as regional newspapers shrink, a report commissioned by the corporation has found.

    According to research by Mediatique, more than 5,000 "front line" journalism jobs were lost across the regional and national press between 2003 and 2013.

    The report, commissioned by the BBC's director of news and current affairs James Harding, said: “Devolution and the decline of the regional press are creating a real need for local news coverage: the BBC is going to have to do more to provide local news that properly serves all parts of the UK.”

    The "Future of News”, published today, singles out Wales, Scarborough and Bradford as areas for concern over lack of local news.

    The study, which was made up of work from BBC journalists and media academics, cited a study by Andy Williams of Cardiff University, which found that Trinity Mirror employed 700 editorial and production staff across its Welsh titles in 1999 – compared with 136 in 2011.

    Johnston Press announced it was stopping the daily publication of five regional newspapers in 2012, including the Scarborough Evening News, the report noted.

    “Today in Scarborough there is a small commercial radio station, no daily newspaper and perhaps surprisingly, very little local or community blogging about the news," it said. 

    "Considering the town hit the national headlines earlier this month as its hospital declared a major incident, there were very few news boots on the ground to hold those responsible to account.

    “Where did local people go to find out what was happening at their hospital? If the media fails to invest in local journalism will this become the case in many more towns across England?”

    The report noted that the BBC 6.30pm regional news “is the most watched news bulletin in the UK in terms of daily audience”, but said that the corporation was also guilty of neglecting areas.

    “The BBC can’t claim to be better than any other parts of the media,” it said.

    “It is as guilty as others of cutting the budget of its local services. The metropolitan district of Bradford is home to over half a million people; it is one of England’s most diverse cities and one of the youngest cities in the country.

    “George Galloway is one of the city’s MPs representing the Respect Party. Three years ago the BBC closed its office in this city, and closed its website – leaving no-one on the ground reporting day to day.”

    The report makes no mention of Newsquest-owned daily newspaper the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, which has an average print circulation of around 19,000, according to ABC.

    It also noted that the BBC's local radio stations are “mostly only local for 12 hours a day” and that “work is needed to improve the frequency of News Online updates”.

    It said: “Today, there is a democratic deficit in the UK. Parts of the country are not properly reported; in others, public services and people in power are not effectively held to account. The BBC is the only news organisation that is required to serve all audiences in all parts of the UK. BBC local radio and regional TV news epitomise public service journalism – providing essential information, underpinning communities, connecting people where they live and holding public figures to account.

    “But we are going to need to do more. The changes in the news industry mean that there are gaps in the coverage of our country and they are growing. At the same time, power is devolving. The BBC is going to have to make the most of digital services, alongside radio and television, to ensure people have the information they need where they live and work.”

    It added: “If the UK is to function as a devolved democracy, it needs stronger local news, regional news and news services for the nations.”

    The report also discussed the BBC’s coverage on a global scale, highlighting various rivals cropping up around the world and indicated that it may have to consider asking global audiences to “fund its future”.

    It said: “The BBC will need to ask itself if it has the resources to compete in global markets and invest in digital. The BBC will have to consider whether the combination of licence fee funding and advertising revenue is sufficient to meet the requirements of reporting the world for the world.

    “If not, it will have to weigh the possibilities of asking global audiences to fund its future as well as exploring new commercial opportunities.

    “China, Russia and Qatar are investing in their international channels in ways we cannot match, but none has our values and our ability to investigate any story no matter how difficult.”

    The study said: “The World Service faces a choice between decline and growth. Competition in global news is growing, both from big state-sponsored news organisations such as Al Jazeera, China Central Television and Russia Today and from digital platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.

    “If the UK wants the BBC to remain valued and respected, an ambassador of Britain’s values and an agent of soft power in the world, then the BBC is going to have to commit to growing the World Service and the government will also have to recognise this.” 

    The report also addressed how BBC News can better gather and present stories. Under the headline “Tone”, itappeared to suggest that organisations like Vice News could provide a lesson.

    “Much has already been written about Vice News, but its pace of growth is really quite remarkable,” it said.

    “With around 100 reporters operating in 35 countries around the world it has amassed over 180 million views and over 1.1m subscribers to its YouTube channel in little over a year. It has demonstrated that a market exists for in-depth foreign news using a tone that is particularly appealing to younger audiences.”

    The report suggested an “open journalism” approach should be “part of the future news environment” and indicated that the corporation should do more to explore data journalism.

    It also said that the future “could lead to the creation of new journalistic ‘beats’”, and that the BBC’s health coverage could concentrate more on “personal health” to follow people's interests.

    The study, which “is intended to capture the many different views of what’s happening in the news industry as a whole and set out the thinking that will shape BBC News’ plans for the future”, is the first part of the BBC’s Future of News project.

    The second part, the corporation said, will follow when BBC News “presents detailed proposals as part of the BBC’s overall case for the renewal of the Royal Charter”.

    James Harding said:  "This is the most exciting time for journalism since the advent of television. But, more than ever, it’s going to be the job of the news to cut through the noise. The BBC must be the place people come for the real story - what really matters, what’s really going on, what it really means.

    “To make this happen, the BBC is going to have to think about how to deliver on its mission to inform beyond broadcasting. It has a singular responsibility to provide the best quality global news coverage to people in the UK and audiences who sorely need it around the world. In local news, devolution and the relative decline of the regional press are creating a democratic deficit - the BBC needs to consider how it can better serve people in the cities, the regions and the four nations of the whole of the UK.” 

    “The job of the news is to keep everyone informed – to enable us to be better citizens, equipped with what we need to know.  In the exciting, uneven and noisy internet age, the need for news – accurate and fair, insightful and independent – is greater than ever.”


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    BBC Trust boss Rona Fairhead has proposed setting up an external regulator with "strong powers" to oversee the corporation.

    Ms Fairhead, who replaced Lord Patten in the role last year, said oversight could not be left to the Government if the BBC "is to remain independent" and that a "bespoke regulator" was needed for the corporation.

    She told an audience at the Oxford Media Convention that reform of the current model, which included being "more specific" about its responsibilities, was the "minimum" required.

    She said: "But the cleanest form of separation would be to transfer the Trust's responsibilities for regulation and accountability to an external regulator. And that's an approach we want to explore further. I think it's the front-runner."

    She said the idea "needs to be tested thoroughly" but it would "provide maximum clarity about who is accountable".

    Ms Fairhead added: "But for it to work, the regulator would need to have fairly strong powers and levers - to hold the BBC to its public purposes and to the standards that audiences expect."

    She said the BBC needed a bespoke regulator because of "the higher expectations" audiences have of it.


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    Referees and linesmen come under intense scrutiny from the media over their decisions in football matches up and down the country each week. (Picture: Shutterstock)

    But there was little chance of the BBC being overly critical in its coverage of Hemel Hempstead’s match against Bath City this weekend – because its own reporter had to deputise for the linesman.

    Matt Mesiano, a freelance, was reporting on the Conference South game for BBC Three Counties Radio when the assistant referee injured his calf after nine minutes.

    With no adequate replacement in sight, Mesiano, a level-seven referee, stepped in.

    He said: "There was a decent crowd, so I was a bit nervous, but I don't think it went too badly.”

    Hat tip: Thomas Collinge


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    The BBC World Service has launched a 60-second long global news bulletin aimed at younger audiences today, to be updated every 30 minutes. 

    BBC Minute will also be distributed via partnerships with radio music stations around the world, and will be available to download on iTunes.

    It will add references to social media to the latest international news headlines, as well as sport, technology, entertainment and science, 24 hours a day.

    Mary Hockaday (pictured), controller of World Service English, said: “We’re providing a lively, bite-sized summary of the day’s global news for younger audiences.

    “I’m thrilled so many partner stations are keen to work with us to bring our impartial, accurate news – the world’s most trusted – to fresh listeners, as we’re always looking for new ways to reach new audiences.”

    Steve Titherington, senior commissioning editor, said: “Half the world is under 35. They are hungry for information and connected to the world in ways they themselves are shaping.

    "BBC Minute shares in this change with new forms of storytelling and new forms of audio.

    "This is an alternative World Service but still the BBC World Service.”

    BBC Minute has been running in Africa since February, with partners including YFM 99.2 in South Africa.


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    Print is MPs' favourite medium for news, according to a new survey.

    A poll by ON-Broadcast Communications asked 103 politicians serving as MPs in January and February this year: "Which television programme, newspaper, radio programme or website is your favourite source of news?" Participants were given the option to provide between one and three answers.

    The BBC was the most popular single news provider selected - with 65 per cent chosing one of the corporation's outlets across TV, radio and online. But print proved the most popular medium.

    Some 44 per cent of the 103 MPs listed a print product in their selection compared with 40 per cent who listed a TV source, 28 per cent who chose a radio source and 29 per cent chose an online platform.

    The Times was the most popular newspaper, with 12 per cent listing it (21 per cent of the 49 Tory MPs surveyed and 7 per cent of the 47 Labour MPs).

    The Guardian (11 per cent) was the next most popular - although it was chosen by no Tory MPs and 24 per cent of those from Labour.

    The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail were the next most popular, being chosen by 8 per cent and 5 per cent of the 103 MPs respectively (both were more popular with the Conservatives than Labour).

    Overall, BBC.co.uk (25 per cent), BBC Radio 4 (23 per cent), BBC television (20 per cent) and Sky News (16 per cent) were the most popular single choices.

    Three per cent of those surveyed chose Twitter as a favourite source of news, making it more popular than ITV News, the Spectator, the Economist and LBC (all 2 per cent), as well as The Sun, Guido Fawkes, PoliticsHome.com and Financial Times (all 1 per cent).

    Photo (Reuters) shows Marylebone Cricket Club members reading newspapers as they wait to get into Lord's cricket ground in London.

    Click here for more information on the survey.


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    BBC David Cameron Islamic State

    The BBC has come under pressure to stop using the term "Islamic State". (Picture: BBC's New Broadcasting House, Shutterstock)

    A letter from 125 MPs has called on the corporation to instead adopt the term "Daesh" to describe the terrorist organisation.

    Prime Minister David Cameron agreed in Parliament yesterday that the term "Islamic State" is inappropriate.

    In the Commons yesterday, Angus Robertson, the SNP's Westminster leader, said to Cameron: "The Prime Minister was right to highlight the longer-term challenge of extremism and radicalisation. He pointed out the importance of getting terminology right and not using the name 'Islamic State'.

    "Will he join parliamentarians across this House, the US Secretary of State and the French Foreign Minister in using the appropriate term?

    "Does he agree that the time has come in the English-speaking world to stop using 'Islamic State', ISIS or ISIL and that instead we and our media should use 'Daesh', the commonly used term across the Middle East?"

    Cameron responded: "I agree with the honourable gentleman on the use of the term 'Islamic State'. This is particularly offensive to many Muslims who see, as I do, not a state but a barbaric regime of terrorism and oppression that takes delight in murder, in oppressing women and in killing people because they are gay, so I raised this with the BBC this morning.

    "I personally think using the term ISIL or 'so-called' would be better than what it currently uses. I do not think we will move it all the way to 'Daesh', however, so I think saying ISIL is probably better than saying Islamic State, because in my view it is neither Islamic nor a state."

    Earlier, on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Cameron was asked by presenter John Humphrys: "Does Islamic State pose an existential threat to the Western world, to us?"

    Cameron responded: "I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State because it's not an Islamic state. What it is is an appalling, barbarous, regime. It's a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear the words Islamic State."

    The letter signed by 125 MPs, led by Rehman Chishti, was sent on 25 June to BBC director general Tony Hall. Signatories included Boris Johnson, the SNP's Alex Salmond and Home Affairs Select Committee chair Keith Vaz.

    It said:

    We, the undersigned, ask that you consider making it the BBC's official policy to refer to the so called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Lavant' (ISIL) as 'Daesh'.

    "The use of the titles: Islamic State, ISIL and ISIS gives legitimacy to a terrorist organisation that is not Islamic nor has it been recognised as a state and which a majority of Muslims aorund the World finds despicable and insulting to their peaceful religion.

    "Many other countries, including France and Turkey, are using the term 'Daesh', which is an Arabic acronym for the group's name and refers to 'one who sows discord'. In September, the French Foreign Minister urged the media outlets to use this title instead of Islamic State because 'it [blurs] the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists'.

    "The BBC has the opportunity to lead on this issue and call this organisation what it really is rather than allowing it to be linked with religion. We hope that you will take up this issue and adopt Daesh as the official title for them."

    A BBC spokesperson said: “No one listening to our reporting could be in any doubt what kind of organisation this is.

    "We call the group by the name it uses itself, and regularly review our approach.

    "We also use additional descriptions to help make it clear we are referring to the group as they refer to themselves, such as ‘so-called Islamic State’.”

    Click here to read a BBC analysis piece, "Isis, Isil or Da'ish? What to call militants in Iraq".


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    BBC Conservative Party

    BBC head of news James Harding has apologised to Conservative minister Grant Shapps over coverage of his Wikipedia page.

    In April, it was widely reported that Shapps had edited his own and other ministers’ Wikipedia pages. However, Wikipedia said that there was no evidence connecting Shapps’ page with “any specific individual” and the administrator who made the accusations to The Guardian was censured by Wikipedia.

    After the election, Shapps was moved from being chairman of the Conservative Party to being a minister at the Department for International Development.

    He complained to the BBC earlier this month that it had broadcast the original claims 42 times in a 24-hour period and that the subsequent news, that he had not edited his Wikipedia page, was not given enough prominence.

    He said: “The original story was ran during the heightened political coverage of a general election, but when a story is misreported the listener or viewer is entitled to hear that correction. Indeed Ofcom’s own guidance clearly states as much saying, ‘Significant mistakes in news should normally be acknowledged and corrected on air quickly.’ Rule 5.2 continues, ‘Corrections should be appropriately scheduled.’

    “Now, unless someone was listening to one specific 6pm radio broadcast, they would simply never know that the original story was entirely inaccurate. Indeed the correction was broadcast only once and lasted just 25 seconds.”

    Shapps has now published a letter from the BBC’s director of news and current affairs James Harding. In it, Harding said: “I quite take your point that our caravans can sometimes move on too quickly and it is something we try to guard against…

    “I don't think the original story needed 'correcting' as your correspondence suggests because we reported the event accurately and fairly. I would add that it is difficult to weigh the original coverage in the way you have done, not just because of the number of press review programmes, but because it largely and quite properly focused on interviews with you and your denials."

    Harding added: “The question is rather whether we gave the subsequent development the right amount of coverage and I don’t think we did quite enough.

    “As you say, no one would expect the follow up outside of election time to receive the same or similar airtime, but I’m sorry we didn’t do as much as I would have liked.”

    Shapps said in a statement: “When the original false accusation was made it was as if the BBC couldn’t get enough of it. Repeating the story hour after hour.

    "But when it turned out to have been trumped up by a LibDem Administrator, later admonished and fired, you would have been hard pressed to have heard the update or correction.

    "The BBC has a duty to not only check the source of a story before it runs, but also to highlight a correction in a timely manner.

    "I believe that there should be a simple test in such cases. Could someone who heard the original broadcast reasonably be expected to have heard the apology or correction? In this case the answer was clearly no and I’m grateful for James Harding accepting that in this case the BBC got it wrong and his apology on behalf of the Corporation.”

    Earlier this month, Wikipedia volunteer administrator Richard Symonds - a former Liberal Democrat activist who goes by the online username Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry - was criticised by an internal inquiry after he blocked an account over the suspicion it was being used by Shapps to editor his own page.

    Symonds faced the prospect of having his privileged Wikipedia access revoked after an investigation found he was unable to provide sufficient justification for his actions.

    The "proposed decision" by the Wikipedia arbitration committee, posted online, said that no evidence was presented to the inquiry which definitively linked the suspect "Contribsx" user account with any specific individual.

    It also criticised Symonds for the way he used his access to the site's CheckUser tool and subsequently revealed details to The Guardian in a way that "created an appearance of favouritism".


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    BBC

    A BBC source said there is “real panic” among BBC managers ahead of a speech from director general Tony Hall in which he is expected to announce more job cuts.

    The National Union of Journalists is not currently aware of where the cuts will be targeted but expects to be briefed in advance of Hall's speech, set for 10.30am tomorrow.

    The union's national broadcasting organiser Sue Harris told Press Gazette: “The NUJ has been saying for some time: ‘You keep cutting the Indians, it’s about time you cut some of the chiefs.’”

    The Guardian reported this morning that the cuts are due to be announced after the BBC discovered that income for 2016/2017 is set to be £150m less than previously forecast. The Guardian reported a source as saying that the cuts would run into the hundreds and would involve a number of senior and middle managers.

    The BBC has annual licence fee income of £3.7bn a year.

    A well-placed BBC source told Press Gazette that managers are in a “real panic” over the speech and that other staff, unaware of who else is likely to be targeted, are “confused”.

    Press Gazette understands that one new senior management position has already been cut. A a well-placed source told Press Gazette that the head of political programmes position, vacated by Sue Inglish yesterday, will not be replaced.

    Meanwhile, the latest Delivering Quality First cuts to BBC News – announced last summer– are still being negotiated. The total job loss figure target stands at just under 400, short of the 415  target.

    The BBC has yet to announce where 70 of these redundancies will come from. 

    Richard Dawkins, chief financial and operating officer of BBC News, told staff in an email yesterday that almost 250 of the 400 targets job cuts have been "concluded", with consultation taking place on a further 60.

    He also said that 50 people have been successfully redeployed and "the number of people in at risk pools has continued to drop and now stands at 110".

    Dawkins said: "We will continue to do all we can to reduce the uncertainty from these changes and we will be putting forward detailed proposals for the remaining post closures, mostly for savings for 2016/17, as soon as these are finalised."

    He added: "The financial pressures we face are very significant - all savings delayed or not achieved need to be found from elsewhere in BBC News Group's budget. So we will continue to work hard to implement our plans taking into account the concerns and issues raised and showing flexibility where we  can. But the challenge of delivering almost £50 million of savings remains acute so I'd like to thank you for your continued hard work and understanding."

    The BBC has yet to respond to a request for a comment.


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    BBC Tony Hall

    The BBC is to cut more than 1,000 jobs, including many managerial roles, the corporation has announced.

    The cuts come as the corporation seeks to become “simpler, leaner and more effective for the future”.

    They were announced by director general Tony Hall in a speech to staff this morning from the BBC's Media Cafe. His speech was streamed onto staff computers.

    The cuts announcement comes after reports the BBC discovered a £150m shortfall in funding from licence fee in 2016/17.

    The cuts would amount to around one in 20 BBC staff going.

    The BBC said it could deliver £50m in savings from “merging divisions, cutting down management layers, reducing managers and improving processes”. It said that more than 1,000 jobs would be lost as a result.

    Asked where the other £100m - making up the rest of the shortfall - would come from, a BBC spokesperson said this would be announced "in due course".

    The BBC said it would reduce the number of divisions by “joining up technology teams across Digital, Engineering and Worldwide”, and said: “Further changes are also possible.”

    It has also pledged to “reduce the number of layers from the top to the bottom of the organisation. In some places there are currently ten layers of people and management and this will be cut to a maximum of seven in the future.”

    The statement also said that the BBC will “reduce management roles in all areas of the BBC. A simpler organisation will inevitably require fewer managers, especially at senior levels.”

    And it will also bid to “simplify and standardise procedures across the BBC particularly looking at how professional and support areas such as marketing and communication, finance, HR, IT support and legal are structured and can be simplified.”

    In a statement this morning, the corporation said: “Over recent years the BBC has built an impressive savings record that will deliver over £1.5bn of savings a year by 2017. Much of this has been done through cutting administration and property costs, pay and headcount restraint, plus tough decisions like more daytime repeats and shared sports rights.

    “A new independent study by PwC being published today ranks the BBC amongst the most efficient organisations in the public and regulated private sectors. Overhead costs are approximately 8 per cent of total costs and will fall to 7 per cent - well below both the public sector average of 11.2 per cent and the regulated industry average of 8.8 per cent.

    “Despite the progress already made, and the realities of the licence fee being frozen for seven years, a new financial challenge means additional savings must now be found.

    “The licence fee income in 2016/17 is now forecast to be £150m less than it was expected to be in 2011. This is because as more people use iPlayer, mobiles and online catch-up, the number of households owning televisions is falling. It also provides further evidence of the need for the licence fee to be modernised to cover digital services.”

    Director General Tony Hall said: “A simpler, leaner, BBC is the right thing to do and it can also help us meet the financial challenges we face. 

    “We’ve already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC, but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters - delivering outstanding programmes and content for all our audiences.”

    Yesterday, Press Gazette reported a source as saying that managers were in a "real panic" ahead of Hall's speech today.


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    BBC NUJ

    The National Union of Journalists has described the BBC’s 1,000 management-targeted cuts as “sensible”, contrasting them with a decade of job losses further down the corporation.

    The cuts, announced by director general Tony Hall this morning, are expected to see people in the highest grades of employment at the BBC lose their jobs.

    The corporation said that the 1,000-plus job losses would help save £50m and that this was necessary after a £150m "shortfall" in funding for 2016/17 was discovered.

    “It’s about simplification, rationalisation – I actually think a lot of it is sensible. It’s about fairness,” NUJ broadcasting organiser Sue Harris told Press Gazette.

    “Job cuts are never happy, but having had a decade of job cuts of, in my view, the Indians [as opposed to the chiefs], there’s elements now that the unions have actually been listened to.”

    The unions were briefed on the job cuts before Hall announced them to staff at 10.30am today. Harris said: “From what we were hearing, the actual job cuts have not been defined yet – that will take place in the next few months [and] consultation is likely to start in the autumn.

    “I’d never wish job cuts on anyone, really. But given that the efficiency [saving scheme] that the rest of the organisation has gone through, it needs to be fairly applied right across the board. And that’s what they seem to be doing.”

    Last summer, BBC director of news and current affairs James Harding announced that around 400 jobs would be lost in the BBC News division under the Delivering Quality First cuts scheme. A further 75 jobs in the division were cut in the 2013/14 financial year, and 140 in 2012/13.

    The message from the NUJ was also that the BBC requires enough funding to sustain its quality. General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "News of the significant budget deficit should be a wake-up call for all those who care about public service broadcasting in the UK.

    "The looming negotiations on charter renewal will be a critical juncture for the BBC - without a new deal that modernises the licence fee and provides for a real-terms increase the BBC as we know it, a world-respected broadcaster and a key driver of the entire British creative industry, will be unable to function.

    "This is why the NUJ, together with the Federation of Entertainment Unions, has launched the Love it or Lose it campaign." 

    In a statement this morning, she said: "The NUJ has been pressing for a restructuring of the BBC that prioritises journalism and programming for some time, one that tackles the fleshy layers of management that have been preserved in the face of waves of cuts that have badly hit grassroots content. So a hard look at how to best deploy resources on the services that really matter and make sure the BBC’s structures are efficient and fit for purpose is overdue.

    “To date, Delivering Quality First, the cost cutting programme which has reduced the news budget by a quarter, has hit journalist jobs and programming. It's taken this deficit for the BBC to move to tackling the management layers that have made many staff feel like it's one BBC for them, and a very different BBC for those running the corporation.”

    She also noted that the 1,000 job cuts account for £50m of the £150m shortfall, and said that this is “concerning”.

    She added: "We will work with our sister unions to ensure that the redeployment process is made to work prop and that compulsory redundancies are avoided.


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    BBC Daily Mail Islamic State

    The BBC is coming under pressure from politicians and other media outlets over its use of the term ‘Islamic State’.

    Earlier this week, the Prime Minister criticised the corporation for using the term - rather than ISIS or ISIL, both of which are acronyms which include the offending term - and the director general was sent a letter signed by more than 120 MPs asking it to use the term “Daesh”.

    Director general Tony Hall responded with a letter saying that using Daesh "would not preserve the BBC's impartiality”.

    "Unfortunately this term may give the impression of support for those who coined it and that would not preserve the BBC's impartiality," he said.

    "We have recognised that used on its own the name Islamic State could suggest that such a state exists and such an interpretation is misleading.”

    Few other UK media outlets have adopted Daesh, and many have used - and continue to use - the term Islamic State.

    Yesterday, the Daily Mail gave the BBC "full marks" in an editorial for “resisting political pressure to drop the term ‘Islamic State’, the name by which members of this vile death cult refer to themselves”. It added: “Will MPs stop fussing irrelevantly about what to call them – and turn their minds to defeating them?”

    However, this praise was retracted today following Hall’s statement and the Mail accused the corporation of having “warped values”. The Mail said: “Yesterday the Mail praised the BBC for resisting political pressure to drop the term Islamic State from its bulletins.

    “Instead of fussing about what to call IS, we strongly believe ministers should focus their attention on how to defeat this vile death cult.

    “Now we learn that rather than taking a brave stand against outside interference, the BBC's main motivation was that it should remain 'impartial' and not be 'pejorative' about IS. What can they be thinking?

    “To argue that anyone can be 'impartial' about a group that beheads captives routinely and after one of its followers has just murdered 30 British holidaymakers in Tunisia is quite simply abhorrent.

    “And it says a great deal about the warped values of so many people at the BBC.”

    The Daily Mail has retained its stance of referring to the group as Islamic State.

    The Mail’s criticism came after a number of politicians laid into the BBC  in Parliament yesterday.

    Leader of the House of Commons Chris Grayling said the broadcaster was a "beacon of fact" during the Second World War and should adopt the same approach when covering threats to the security of Britain.

    "I have to say that I have a different view of what impartiality means to the BBC," he told the House. "During the Second World War, the BBC was a beacon of fact, it was not expected to be impartial between Britain and Germany.

    "Today it should be a beacon of fact, but it is not expected to be impartial about threats to the security and safety of the lives and limbs of the people of this nation.”

    Rehman Chishti MP, who led the group of MPs asking the BBC to use the term Daesh, said of Hall’s letter: "The response that I received is not worth the paper it's written on."

    Yesterday, Tory James Gray raised the issue at the start of the debate on Britain and international security, asking Defence Secretary Michael Fallon: "Are you aware of reports the BBC has in fact said they must be fair with Islamic State on the grounds that the coverage of the terrorist group must be impartial?

    "Will you agree with me the BBC need not be impartial with murderous scumbags of the kind that ISIL are and calling them Daesh is perfectly correct?"

    Fallon replied: "The BBC needs to be impartial about the facts, but you can't be impartial between terrorism and the rules by which the rest of us live."

    Alex Salmond cautioned MPs against a "bash the BBC session" over the broadcaster's use of the term Islamic State.

    Intervening on Tory Julian Lewis, the former SNP leader said: "Far be it for me to defend the BBC since they've done so little in Scotland recently to merit defence, but would you not allow that perhaps we should unite across this chamber in the expression of the term Daesh and the wisdom of using it.

    "And once we do that then reflect one of the broadcasting organisations would follow as opposed to just turning this into a bash the BBC session."

    Lewis said Salmond had anticipated his next point, adding: "If we use the term Daesh eventually, with luck, the BBC will be the only organisation left not doing so and at that point even they might see sense."

    Tory Nigel Evans joined the calls for the BBC to stop being impartial when it comes to terrorists, saying it "should remember" the £3.7 billion of taxpayer funding it receives.

    He said: "What's the BBC playing at, for goodness sake?

    "It is not neutral when it comes to terrorism.

    "I'm amazed they are still known as the British Broadcasting Corporation, I suspect I'll wake up one and they'll just be the broadcasting corporation because they want to show neutrality around the world that they really aren't British.

    "Well they should remember that they are on the receiving end of £3.7 billion-worth of British taxpayers' money and I don't expect them to be neutral when we're talking about terrorism."

    Picture: Reuters.


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    BBC

    Director-general Tony Hall has enlisted the BBC's audience in his opposition to plans for what he described as a "much-diminished" corporation.

    Speaking to reporters at the launch of the BBC's annual review, he said the recent funding agreement in the run-up to the budget was "not a good process" but was now settled.

    That deal, which saw the BBC take on responsibility for funding free TV licences for the over-75s, will be followed on Thursday by a Government green paper expected to call for a narrower range of programming and an examination of the future of the licence fee.

    Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has also appointed an eight-person panel to work on the renewal of the BBC's royal charter - which sets out the corporation's remit - which runs out at the end of next year.

    Hall told reporters the charter debate was "shaping up to be a clash between two different views of the future".

    He added: "Because there is an alternative view that prefers a much-diminished BBC. It's a view that is often put forward by people with their own narrow commercial interests or ideological preconceptions".

    Hall said audiences do not want "a significantly smaller BBC" and the public's voice "will matter most in this debate".

    Hall set out what he described as "non-negotiable" aspects of the BBC, including universal funding - "because we all pay, we all pay less" - and political independence.

    He said: "I have real difficulty with the idea of artificial restrictions on creativity - after all, the last time politicians tried to be creative we ended up with the Millennium Dome. So it will be hard to support any proposal that stops us finding the next Strictly, the next Bake Off or - dare I say it - the next Top Gear."

    Talent

    The annual report showed that amid talk of cost-cutting the BBC increased its workforce in 2014/15.

    Hall has pledged to save £50m by cutting layers of management and 1,000 jobs. Between 2013/14 and 2014/15 the workforce rose from 18,647 to 18,974 people, and the BBC paid out £976.5m in wages - up from £955m in 2014.

    The BBC, which is in the middle of its Delivering Quality First efficiency drive which it says has saved £484m this year, saw its reported bill for on-screen talent rise from £194m to £208m. The BBC said this was because the new figure, making up 12.2 per cent of internal spend on content, includes the BBC World Service.

    The number of people earning more than £500,000 a year fell from 14 to nine, but the amount paid to the top earners who take home more than £1m a year has gone up from £4.2m to £5.1m.

    The BBC cut the amount paid to talent earning between £500,000 and £750,000, which fell from £6.5m to £2.9m.

    BBC Worldwide

    BBC Worldwide paid £226.5m to the corporation last year due to the success of shows including Doctor Who and Great British Bake Off.

    The report said Doctor Who was its top-selling show having been licensed to 189 territories, with programmes including Top Gear and The Weakest Link also doing well.

    Local versions of the motoring show, currently in the middle of recruiting a new presenting team after the exit of Jeremy Clarkson and his co-hosts, have been launched in France and China, and Bake Off has been sold to countries including Turkey and Israel.

    Trust

    The report showed that BBC News has yet to fully recover from the scandals of 2012 in terms of perceptions of trust from the public.

    The report said: “Last year we said that we would monitor perceptions of accuracy and impartiality, which fell a little in 2013.

    “This year perceptions were fairly stable overall, although audiences in Scotland showed how challenging it was for the BBC to satisfy all parts of the audience with its referendum coverage.

    “Audiences continued to rate BBC News much more highly than other news providers, although perceptions of trust in BBC News have not returned to the record levels of 2012.”

    The graph above shows that 53 per cent of public surveyed by Ipsos MORI said they would turn to BBC News - above others - for impartial news coverage. Surveys in 2014 and 2013 put this figure at 50 per cent and 49 per cent respectively.

    The report last year said: "[W]e are slightly below the levels reached before October 2012 when the crisis broke over coverage of Jimmy Savile and the separate Newsnight child abuse investigation...

    "We will work hard to justify the audience’s continued trust. We will be alive to our critics and take responsibility for mistakes when we make them. We will uphold an uncompromising commitment to accuracy, impartiality, diversity of opinion and fair treatment of people in the news.”

    Regions

    As part of the report, the BBC monitored how well news and current affairs represents the lives of people in England (61 per cent), Scotland (48 per cent), Northern Ireland (61 per cent) and Wales (55 per cent).

    The report said: "Councils reported strong appreciation for locally produced TV output in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and in the English regions, welcomed investment and innovation in high-quality journalism regional current affairs and digital services.

    "Members noted unprecedented BBC activity in Scotland for the Commonwealth Games and the independence referendum, increasing the overall audience for BBC output.

    "Audience Council Scotland commended BBC coverage of the referendum debate, but believed network news coverage came too late, and noted significant concern among a section of the audience about perceptions of impartiality.

    "Councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said audiences would welcome more coverage of their affairs on network TV news."

    News reach

    The report said the BBC news reached 80 per cent of UK adults on a weekly basis, with 32m watching it on television and 27m unique browsers recorded online each week in the first three months of 2015. This online figure was 65m worldwide.

    The BBC said that it attracted a then-record 70.7m unique browsers, including just less than 30m in the UK, on the news website in the week of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. It said that 13.2m UK unique browsers, and 23.4m globally, visited the BBC Scotland News website in the week of the independence referendum.

    The report said that over the course of the year the World Service reached 210m people, going above 200m for the first time.


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    BBC John Whittingdale

    A consultation paper on the future of the BBC published by the Government would pave the way to "a much diminished, less popular" service, the broadcaster has warned.

    Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said that the upcoming review of the BBC's Royal Charter will look at whether the broadcaster should continue to be "all things to all people" or should have a more "precisely targeted" mission in terms of its output.

    Launching a green paper setting out the terms of the review, Whittingdale said the process would consider both the "mixture and quality" of the programmes broadcast by the BBC as well as the way they are produced.

    "With so much more choice in what to consume and how to consume it, we must at least question whether the BBC should try to be all things to all people, to serve everyone across every platform, or if should have a more precisely-targeted mission," Whittingdale told the House of Commons in a statement.

    "The upcoming Charter review will look at whether the scale and scope of the BBC is right for the current and future media environment and delivers what audiences are willing to pay for."

    He told MPs that a subscription model for paying for the BBC "could well be an option in the longer term, but would not work in the short term".

    The review will look at three options for changing funding arrangements for the BBC - a reformed licence fee, a household levy or a "hybrid" funding model. Consideration should be given to the case for a full subscription model in the longer term, he said.

    In a statement, the BBC said: "We believe that this green paper would appear to herald a much diminished, less popular, BBC. That would be bad for Britain and would not be the BBC that the public has known and loved for over 90 years.

    "It is important that we hear what the public want. It should be for the public to decide whether programmes like Strictly or Bake Off, or stations like Radio 1 or 2, should continue.

    "As the director-general said on Tuesday, the BBC is not owned by its staff or by politicians, it is owned by the public. They are our shareholders. They pay the licence fee. Their voice should be heard the loudest."

    The BBC said the starting point for the Charter renewal debate should be "how can a strong BBC benefit Britain even more at home and abroad?"

    The broadcaster added: "The BBC has embraced change in the past and will continue to do so in the future, and we will set out our own proposals in September."

    Whittingdale said that the Government would consider the case for decriminalisation of licence fee evasion as part of the review, but a report published today had concluded that the measure was not appropriate under the current funding arrangements.

    The Culture Secretary said that the review would look at three options for reforming the BBC's governance, including reforming the existing BBC Trust, creating a new stand-alone oversight body or moving regulation to Ofcom, each of which he said had "pros and cons".

    Trust chairman Rona Fairhead said: "Of course there are also big questions to ask about the future of the BBC, but the debate must not be a narrow one and the clearest voice in it must that of the public. We will carry out our own research and consultation to make sure of that, and we welcome the Government's statement that they will work with us and will take full account of our findings."

    Whittingdale confirmed that the BBC will take over responsibility for funding free TV licences for over-75s from 2018/19.

    And he told MPs: "We also anticipate that the licence fee will rise in line with the Consumer Prices Index over the next Charter review period - but this is dependent on the BBC keeping pace with efficiency savings elsewhere in the public sector and it is also subject to whatever conclusions are drawn from the Charter review about the BBC's scope and purpose."

    Whittingdale told MPs there was no "easy solution" to the problem of funding the BBC. The current £145.50 licence fee was "regressive" because it was charged at the same rate on every household with a TV set, he said.

    And he acknowledged that increasing numbers of younger viewers were accessing BBC programming via the internet and the corporation's own iPlayer service, for which no licence fee is required. This was "perfectly legal" but the Government was committed to updating the legislation.

    The Charter review will look at whether the BBC's current range of services "best serves licence fee payers" and whether the scale of its output is adversely affecting commercial rivals, said the Culture Secretary.

    He cited the BBC's Olympic coverage and "world-beating dramas" like Sherlock and Doctor Who as examples of why the corporation remained "cherished and admired - not only in this country but around the world".

    But he said the corporation had grown from two television channels, five national radio stations and a local radio presence 20 years ago to become "the largest public service broadcaster in the world, with nine television channels, five UK-wide radio stations, six radio stations that reach one of the home nations, 40 local radio stations, and a vast online presence," he said.

    "There is evidence the BBC helps to drive up standards and boosts investment, but there is also concern that public funding should not undermine commercial business models for TV, radio and online."

    Labour's shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant said the corporation should continue to make popular programmes like Strictly Come Dancing, Top Gear and The Voice.

    He told Whittingdale: "You say we should consider the matter of the universality of the BBC, but surely the golden thread that runs through the concept of the BBC is that we all pay in and we should all get something out - and that includes my constituents as well as (your) constituents, those who like opera and those who like soap opera."


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    BBC Newsnight

    The BBC’s creative director Alan Yentob (pictured, Reuters) has been accused of making an "improper" call to Newsnight ahead of its report on a charity of which he is the chairman.

    Yentob, who is also editor and presenter of BBC programme Imagine, is reported to have phoned staff on the BBC Two current affairs programme hours before its broadcast on the Kids Company.

    The Daily Mail reports that Yentob also joined Kids Company chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh at the studios of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the next morning. He was not invited to the studio and did not speak on air, it reports.

    The newspaper quotes a source as saying: “Alan Yentob tried to maintain to Newsnight that this was not a story when the public interest was clear... It is common knowledge that he rang the Newsnight office before broadcast to find out what was going on. This was improper.”

    On Yentob’s presence at the Today studios, the Mail quotes a source as saying: “Wittingly or unwittingly, this could have had an effect on how the interview went... It is highly irregular for a senior BBC executive to have been hanging around the Today studios at that time of day. He doesn’t work on the programme and shouldn’t have been there.”

    The Mail also quotes Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen as saying that Yentob should resign from the BBC or the Kids Company “straight away”.

    A BBC spokesperson said: "The fact that BBC broke this story shows that our journalism has been impartial and in the public interest.

    "We are not going to comment on gossip but everyone knows that Alan Yentob is the Creative Director of the BBC and doesn't have any editorial control over BBC News.

    "He is chair of Kids Company and can speak to media outlets about issues related to them."


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    Veteran broadcaster James Naughtie has said he will "probably cry" on his last day at the helm of the Today programme.

    He is being replaced by Nick Robinson, who recently took time off to recover from lung cancer.

    Asked about leaving the flagship BBC Radio 4 programme,Naughtie, 64, told the Radio Times magazine: "I'm the kind of emotional guy who cries at movies.

    "I'm an emotional person. I care about what I do and I'm moved by events... It's finding the right way of saying something: if you don't invest emotion into that, you'll never do it. The price of investing emotion is... I will probably cry on my last day."

    Naughtie will work as a special correspondent for Radio 4 and as BBC News books editor when he leaves the show, but his literary duties will see him return to Today every Saturday morning with a regular book review slot.

    He first joined the show in 1994 following the death of Brian Redhead and has interviewed US presidents and every prime minister from Margaret Thatcher onwards.

    He hit the headlines five years ago when he made an embarrassing verbal slip over the name of then culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and accidentally replaced the first letter of his surname with a ''C''.

    Speaking about that incident, he told the magazine: "I was there with lots of bits of paper and someone was shoving headlines in front of me and I said, 'After the news we'll be talking to Jeremy C***'... And all I could see behind the glass were arms going up in the air, as in 'We surrender'.

    "And the guy who was passing the news bulletins to the late Rory Morrison went under the table [laughing]."

    Robinson will start on air from the autumn.

    Newsnight's Laura Kuenssberg is to succeed Robinson as the BBC's political editor.


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    Victoria Derbyshire BBC

    BBC presenter and journalist Victoria Derbyshire has been diagnosed with breast cancer, the BBC reports.

    The BBC Two and BBC News Channel presenter revealed her diagnosis and upcoming mastectomy on Twitter yesterday.

    “Hi, have been diagnosed with breast cancer & am having a mastectomy in a few wks. Family, friends, work & NHS staff are being brilliant” said the 46-year-old journalist.

    She also said she will continue with her BBC Two Victoria Derbyshire Show “as much as possible during the treatment in the months ahead”.

    The Daily Mail and the Telegraph both featured the news on their front pages.

    The BBC has said: “We wish Victoria a full and speedy recovery and look forward to having her back full-time on the programme as soon as possible.”


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    BBC

    A BBC World Service journalist sacked after he declined to put a report of the birth of Prince George out on a Sri Lankan news service has lost a tribunal claim for race discrimination.

    Chandana Bandara lost his job on 15 August 2014 and claimed he was unfairly targeted because of his belief that the Tamil people of Sri Lanka have been persecuted by the Sinhala-dominant government.

    The London employment tribunal found that such a belief does not fulfill the criteria for race discrimination and that in any case the dismissal process was found to be a fair one.

    Among those who gave evidence on Bandara’s behalf were high-profile journalists Francis Harrison and Callum Macrae (the director of Emmy-nominated documentary No Fire Zone).

    The tribunal ruling describes a period of discord at the BBC Sinhala service as it recounts the events leading up to Bandara’s dismissal.

    Bandara had worked for the BBC since 1995 and been a senior producer on the Sinhala service since 2000. In this role Bandara, who has a Sinhalese father and Tamil mother, was in charge of editorial output on the service when editor Priyath Liyanage was away.

    The tribunal heard that most of the rest of the team were of Sinhalese heritage (including Liyanage).

    Bandara was in charge on 23 July 2013, the day after birth of Prince George to the Duchess of Cambridge. He decided not to prioritise the royal birth story, partly – he said – because it was the 30th anniversary of Black July (a wave of anti-Tamil violence that saw thousands killed in Sri Lanka).

    Bandara resisted management pressure to cover the story but relented and it was published online at 12.08pm on 23 July, the tribunal was told.

    After disciplinary proceedings, Bandara was found to have been guilty of gross misconduct and given a final written warning.

    The tribunal found that in view of Bandara’s clean disciplinary record over the previous 18 years this was too severe a punishment.

    In November 2013 the BBC Sinhala service broadcast a documentary by BBC journalist Francis Harrison called Sri Lanka’s Unfinished War which detailed human rights violations perpetrated by the government against Tamils.

    Harrison had secured legal agreements from BBC lawyers that the documentary would be broadcast in full, the tribunal heard. But while the BBC Tamil service broadcast it in full, the Sinhala service opted to leave out an account of torture in rehabilitation camps and add in false claims from a Sri Lankan military spokesman that Harrison had made the documentary with a Tamil activist organisation.

    Harrison complained to the BBC, and – according to the tribunal – “a very significant fuss ensued”.

    The editor in charge while this happened, Liyanage, was disciplined but not fired.

    The tribunal heard that Bandara was away from work when the editing and additions to the Harrison documentary were made.

    The tribunal heard that on his first day back after publication of the “distorted” Harrison piece, Bandara called Liyanage at home and shouted at him.

    He was later accused of misconduct over a claim that he shouted at another colleague.

    Bandara was also accused of making a derogatory reference to another manager, Dejan Radojevic (who was involved in the decision to make the amendments to the Harrison documentary).

    Rejecting Bandara’s claim that he was targeted because of his support for Sri Lankan Tamils, the tribunal said: “Our conclusion is that we are not persuaded that the views expressed by the complainant constitute a philosophical belief attracting the status of a protected characteristic within the Equality Act. It is too local or limited. It is not a believe but a desire to take action founded on knowledge.”

    It also said: "Nothing we have heard or read gives any support to the assertion that any of the claimant's fellow employees knew that he held the philosophical belief that the alleges here."

    Although it was “manifestly inappropriate” for Bandara to receive a final written warning over his reluctance to include news of the birth of Prince George, it nonetheless upheld his subsequent dismissal.

    It said: “We are confident the process was reasonable. It was extensive, lengthy and detailed.

    “There were numerous witnesses and enormous quantities of management time spent on this. There were internal interviews; several disciplinary hearings; analyses; reports and disciplinary hearings.

    “There were huge amounts of documents apparently all considered at the final hearings. By any standards this was a reasonable investigation.”

     


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