Memorandum from BBC World Television
1. In response to your letter of 22 November,
2001, I am writing to provide you with the evidence you request
on BBC World's policy on television news coverage in the US, particularly
following the events of 11 September. We are concerned to hear
about the dismay expressed in the viewpoint you have received,
particularly as we have not received any similar comments whatsoever
regarding our US coverage post-September 11.
BBC World in the US
2. As you know, BBC World is the BBC's 24-hour
international news and information television channel, distributed
to 180 million homes in 200 countries and territories around the
world. In the US, BBC World news bulletins are available across
the US on public broadcast stations through an agreement with
the New York-based station, WLIW21. BBC World news bulletins are
also carried at least four times a day on BBC America, the BBC's
bespoke entertainment channel for the US market.
Our action post 11 September
3. In the immediate aftermath, BBC America
carried continuous coverage of the attacks by switching to BBC
World's rolling news for 48 hours without interruption. This is
available to about 22 million households across the US.
4. WLIW21 New York also made available BBC
World's continuous coverage of the attacks to the 134 public television
stations across the US that carry BBC World news bulletins. This
was the first time that the channel has been made available in
its entirety throughout America. Over 30 additional PBS stations
also took our feed as a result of the events of September 11and
have now signed on permanently for the channel (a reflection of
the quality of its content).
5. Requests for permission to relay our
channel were also received from broadcasters in every region of
the world. It is estimated that since the news broke, an additional
77 million households carried our continuous news output. Of these,
30 million extra homes were added in the US through our granting
of permission to relay the channel to the Learning Channel (USA
Cable Network) across the States.
Comments received re quality of coverage
6. It would be fair to say that we have
not received any negative feedback on our coverage or availability
in the US post September 11. Rather, we have had extensive positive
feedback praising the coverage. As evidence to support this claim,
we can provide the following (attached):
emails from public television stations
across the US, praising both the quality of the news and the channel's
email feedback from viewers across
the US (and across the world) thanking us for our unbiased, accurate
and informed news. In the two weeks following 11 September, 48
per cent of all emails praising the channel came from the US.
press coverage in the US (and elsewhere)
uniformly praising the quality of BBC World's coverage.
7. You will understand our confusion at
the allegations referred to in your letter, given this overwhelmingly
positive feedback. In response to the specific "failures"
"the failure to provide a bespoke
news service for viewers in the US": BBC World's remit is
to provide a global channel with a global news agenda for its
genuinely global audienceour policy is to provide the same
news content everywhere. You will see from the evidence above
that the channel made every effort to make its continuous news
available to the widest possible audience at such a crucial timeproviding
immediate free licences to all broadcasters who requested permission
to relay the channelwith an estimated 300 million additional
viewers having access to our continuous coverage.
"the failure to make full use
of the BBC's worldwide news resources": as you will see from
the positive feedback provided, one of the strengths of BBC World's
news coverage that viewers have appreciated has been its world
view, with our unparalleled network of correspondents round the
globe. We have anchored live from Islamabad and Washington, with
correspondents reporting from Quetta, Jerusalem, New York, Oman,
Peshawar, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tadjikistan, Baghdad, to name
a few highlightsusing the resources of BBC News to the
full. Indeed much of the praise from the US specifically thanked
the BBC for providing a global perspective, in contrast to the
US centred views available on all other channels.
We would be happy to provide you with any further
background on this.