BBC confirms first thematic review as part of 10-point impartiality plan

The review, the first of its kind, was commissioned by the BBC Board as part of its responsibility for setting and monitoring editorial standards across the Corporation. It follows publication of the 10-point impartiality plan in October last year, designed to further raise editorial standards across the BBC.

The thematic review will cover all UK public service radio, television and online content, as well as related programme and personal social media use. It will specifically assess News and Factual content, but will not be limited to News and Current Affairs. The Review will include taxation and spending in the devolved Nations of the UK.

It will begin this week and is expected to complete this summer.

Sir Andrew and Michael Blastland together established the BBC Radio 4 series More Or Less, which has aired since 2001 and has become an exemplar of impartiality.

Sir Andrew Dilnot is currently the Warden of Nuffield College Oxford and is the former Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, while Michael Blastland is now an independent freelance journalist, broadcaster and critically acclaimed author.

Terms of reference published today confirm the review will assess whether due impartiality is being achieved across BBC taxation and public spending output, and that a breadth of voices and viewpoints are being reflected.

The new Board led review will include coverage of major areas of public spending, in particular where there is controversy. It will review significant announcements about taxation and spending such as the Government’s Budget and Spending Review announcements.

Alongside relevant content Sir Andrew Dilnot and Michael Blastland will review new and existing audience research; opinions of experts, commentators, stakeholders and the public; relevant complaints; associated social media including from programme teams; and input from staff across the UK.

BBC Chairman Richard Sharp says: “I am enormously grateful that Sir Andrew Dilnot and Michael Blastland, who command great respect from their peers, have vast experience inside and outside of the BBC and both have an unerring reputation for impartiality, will undertake the first Board led review of its kind, looking at taxation and public spending, to ensure the BBC has the right expertise in and approach to producing coverage in these areas.

“Trust is the foundation of the BBC’s relationship with audiences and it is more important now than ever. The new thematic reviews are a key pillar of our 10-point plan on impartiality and raising editorial standards; they will challenge how due impartiality is being met across our output in key areas of public debate and ensure our content is fair, accurate and unbiased.”

The Review will make recommendations and it will be published.