BBC coverage of Wales in news programmes 'improves'

BBC studio gallery in London
Image caption The BBC has made "real progress" in its reporting of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, said the trust

The BBC's coverage of Wales in its UK-wide news and current affairs programmes has improved since a 2008 report, says the BBC Trust.

The proportion of items relating to Wales increased significantly compared to 2007, said the report.

However, the study suggested Wales continues to receive less coverage than other UK nations.

The research follows a previous review which said the BBC must improve its coverage of the UK's devolved nations.

That report, published in 2008, found the BBC was "falling short of its own high standards", and identified areas where action was needed.

The BBC Trustee for Wales, Janet Lewis-Jones said there had been measurable improvements.

"People know when we are not getting things right in the BBC," she said.

"It's a slow ship to turn around. But we did want quick results and we have got some quick results."

She also rejected any suggestion that changes in performance had been a 'box-ticking' exercise.

"I think it is a real commitment. The BBC executive have put a lot of effort in to this in a very committed way," she insisted.

The new report from the trust said "real progress" had been made relating to the BBC's reporting on Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Improvements included a "significant increase" in television reporting from the devolved nations, with a more modest increase on radio.

The number of references made to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland had also "increased dramatically".

The review also identified areas where "further progress" was needed, such as some BBC items not making it clear which part of the UK they referred to.

There were also some subjects "where there is a continued bias in favour of stories about England" such as health and education.

All news stories considered in the study about the arts and policing related only to England.

While the proportion of news items related to the devolved nations had increased, concerns were highlighted in the research about Wales.

The report said: "Again, while we cannot assume a correlation between the location of the population and/or audience and the geographical relevance of a news item, we note that these percentages are now much closer to the population spread across the UK.

"However, Wales, although it has a larger share of the population and audience than Northern Ireland, continues to receive less coverage than the other nations."

Richard Tait, chair of the BBC Trust's editorial standards committee, said: "The trust is clear that the BBC should serve all audiences, and licence fee payers themselves tell us they want to know more about what's going on in the nations and regions of the UK."

The BBC Executive said it welcomed the recognition in the study of the work done since the previous report to improve the BBC's journalism.

It outlined what it would do to improve performance including regular monitoring of coverage and reminding programme editors of the need to compare and contrast policy areas in the devolved nations.

The research was carried out by Cardiff University and included an analysis of four weeks of BBC network news and current affairs in October and November last year.

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