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Changes to the BBC homepage
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Post categories: BBC News website
Steve Herrmann | 11:25 UK time, Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Anyone who uses the BBC homepage may find this post by BBC Future Media's James Thornett interesting: it describes how the page is changing, and why.
PS For the avoidance of doubt, James' blog is about changes to the main BBC homepage at www.bbc.co.uk not the BBC News homepage which is here.
Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website.
Change of season at BBC Weather website
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Post categories: Weather
Liz Howell | 16:42 UK time, Tuesday, 15 November 2011
A few weeks ago we announced that we were making some improvements to the BBC's Weather website, including a clearer, more focused design of the homepage.
Since then we've been running a "beta" version of the new site to allow us to try out these new features and listen to your comments and feedback. Following that successful trial period, I'm pleased to say that we are launching the new weather site today.
We've had a great response to the beta site which has received around 230,000 visitors per week and I'd like to thank those who have taken the time to try it out and give us your comments. These figures are very similar to the numbers of people who have tested beta versions of the new iPlayer site and the BBC homepage, which shows how many of you value the weather website.
We've worked hard to improve the functionality of the site, whilst retaining all of the more detailed forecast information such as humidity, pressure and visibility. The majority of the feedback we've received has been very positive with many users saying that a variety of information can be accessed at a glance, they like the design and perhaps most importantly, the website is clearer and easier to use.
I've blogged about the key improvements to the site previously but as a reminder these are:
• A more focused and clear homepage design giving instant access to a five day forecast and a video forecast.
• Easily personalised forecast favourites which allow you to save a range of locations to appear in the drop down menu.
• Improved navigation across the site allowing more editorial content, including audience pictures on the homepage.
We've listened to your suggestions while the beta site has been live and also implemented some changes that were already in the pipeline such as the print function and the full UK forecast map.
Although we're launching the new site officially today, we'll continue to look at ways to improve the site and there are aspects that we'll continue to work on over the coming weeks. These include making the maps load more smoothly and developing a mobile version of the site.
In addition to these improvements, we want to hear your views on the new site and we'll continue to monitor your feedback, we're using the #bbcweather hashtag on Twitter to group conversation, or you can comment below.
Liz Howell is head of BBC Weather.
Sponsored programmes on BBC World News
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Post categories: BBC World News
Richard Porter | 15:23 UK time, Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Today the BBC Trust publishes its findings into an investigation of the funding arrangements for certain programmes broadcast on our international commercial television news channel, BBC World News.
The Trust has concluded that 15 programmes broadcast in our weekend schedule breached the BBC's editorial or sponsorship guidelines.
The programmes concerned were acquired by the channel at low or nominal cost, and around half of them were funded or partly funded by charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or other similar groups.
The Trust found breaches of guidelines in seven programmes relating to conflict of interest; the promotion of a sponsor's activities; the prohibition of sponsorship for current affairs programming; and the way in which funding was credited to ensure transparency for viewers.
The remaining breaches concerned programmes made for the BBC by an independent production company, which failed to disclose to us that it had a financial relationship with the Malaysian government, while producing programmes with a "heavy focus" on Malaysia.
The Trust classifies this as "serious breaches" of its guidelines, and BBC World News fully accepts their findings. We share the Trust's view that the integrity and independence of the BBC's editorial decisions is of paramount importance. We welcome their conclusion that none of the programmes breached requirements for impartiality. But nevertheless, we are determined to learn the lessons from what has gone wrong.
So how did it happen? There is no single, or simple answer. The cases involving Malaysia were serious because we transmitted programmes without being made aware of a conflict of interest by the supplying production company. Eight programmes were broadcast between 2009 and July 2011, with references to Malaysia. Following reports in the Independent newspaper, the production company admitted to the BBC that it represented the Malaysian government through another division of its activities. We didn't know this at the time, and we have now terminated our relationship with this company.
A second conflict of interest arose in another programme about carbon trading, where an association was found between an organisation featured in the programme, and a company which funded the programme production. This conflict was not declared to us at the time of transmission - had we known, we would not have broadcast it.
In the remaining cases examined by the Trust, the issues were primarily related to how we interpreted editorial or sponsorship guidelines. This, again, is something we take very seriously, and today we are announcing new procedures which take full account of the findings.
The Trust did say that no BBC staff had intended to breach guidelines, but there seemed to be a lack of knowledge or genuine confusion about the relevant guidance. Clearly we need to tighten our procedures so that it doesn't happen again.
As a result, we are taking steps to tighten our list of supplying production companies, and to put in place a more rigorous process to approve programme commissions - including further checks on any potential conflicts of interest. We have also undertaken no longer to commission or acquire programmes sponsored by non-commercial organisations, and have stopped taking programmes at low nominal cost. We have re-affirmed that sponsored programming will only be allowed in non-news and current affairs genres, and we will act on the Trust's guidance to take a "strictly prudential view" of what amounts to sponsorship.
These are complex cases, but the principles underlying them are simple. We must not damage the audience's trust in what we broadcast. We know we have some hard work to do to make up for this, but we are determined to do so.
Richard Porter is controller of English at BBC Global News.
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