BBC Restructures Political Coverage and Programmes


The BBC has announced changes to its political and parliamentary output to improve its digital coverage, better serve its audiences, and provide more value for money.

The changes to BBC’s Political output includes;

> A new team giving better digital and social coverage – including podcasts – of politics and parliament for audiences who are increasingly getting their news online, especially on mobiles. In an era of concerns about misinformation and ‘echo chambers’ this is designed to bring trusted impartial political coverage to younger audiences

> A new daily political programme – Politics Live – which will replace Daily Politics from Monday to Friday.

> A new BBC One half hour stand-alone Sunday Politics programme for each of the nations and English regions, replacing the ‘opts’ currently shown within the Sunday Politics. This will now be shown immediately after Andrew Marr. The UK-wide network edition of Sunday Politics will no longer be broadcast after this month.

> A changed schedule for BBC Parliament: the channel will still broadcast live and replayed coverage of Parliament and the devolved parliaments and assemblies, but will no longer make bespoke programmes and will not air in the weeks when the UK Parliament or the devolved Parliaments and assemblies are not sitting.

> Politics Live will be presented by Jo Coburn four days a week and Andrew Neil will present a special extended programme on Wednesdays, to include PMQs. The new 45-minute programme (One hour 45 minutes on Wednesdays) will offer viewers a fast-moving, conversational show, featuring a blend of political interviews, discussion and video content designed to be shared digitally, ensuring Politics Live connects with the lives of people around the country.

Head of BBC Westminster Katy Searle says: “Covering politics and Parliament is at the heart of BBC News’s remit, especially in today’s tempestuous political landscape and with Brexit due to happen in less than a year.

“The way people get their news is changing, and the nature of politics is changing as well – this is why we’re boosting what we do digitally to bring trusted political information to people, wherever they’re getting their news. It’s more important than ever to report and scrutinise what happens in Parliament to give our audience the facts and analysis they need.”

Jo Coburn, presenter of Politics Live, says: “Politics Live will give viewers a smart, accessible and modern take on British politics every weekday. With a conversational, unstuffy approach, we will keep viewers up to speed in fast-changing times and entertain them along the way.”

Andrew Neil, presenter of Politics Live, says: “In turbulent political times, Politics Live will bring energy and intelligence to reporting politics. I’m excited by the programme’s ambition to engage younger and more diverse audiences – as well as our commitment to rigorous journalism and holding those in power to account. I’m looking forward to presenting the show on Wednesdays when PMQs will be centre-stage.”

Gavin Allen, Controller of Daily Programmes, says: “Sarah Smith is a talented broadcaster who’s done a great job on Sunday Politics over the past year, and we’re immensely grateful to her. Audiences will continue to see Sarah in her network role as the BBC’s Scotland Editor.

“But given the need for BBC News to make substantial savings while offering distinctive content, it no longer makes sense for us to run two national UK politics programmes in close succession on the same day and the same channel.”

Like the rest of the BBC, BBC News has substantial savings to make.

Today in Parliament and Yesterday in Parliament on BBC Radio 4 will continue to be broadcast as now.

The Andrew Marr Show and This Week on BBC One will continue to be broadcast as now.

Since the advent of BBC Parliament, the UK Parliament and the devolved assemblies and chambers are increasingly live streaming their proceedings. The BBC will signpost these livestreams alongside our journalism.

The National Union of Journalists reacted with dismay however, saying; “Politics staff at the corporation say these cuts are not in spirit of the BBC’s public service obligations and will be a disservice to viewers.”

Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said: “The BBC as a public-service broadcaster plays a vital role in the UK’s democracy. We need to be able to see the work of Parliament and the expert analysis and explanations provided by BBC journalists.

“In the context of Brexit and the current political landscape viewers and listeners need knowledgeable, non-partisan coverage. The suggestion that political coverage should be undermined at this time suggests a lack of appreciation of the vital role played by the BBC on the part of senior decision makers within the organisation. That, in itself, is deeply troubling. The union will, as ever, contest any compulsory redundancies.”