for the musical of meatloaf�*s life. for me there is something about meatloaf. thanks very much for giving that warm tribute to meatloaf whose death was announced today at the end of the net age of 7a. how do you follow that? only one—way with newswatch. hello and welcome to newswatch with me, samira ahmed. not for the first time the bbc�*s political coverage comes under fire for an alleged lack of balance. we asked fran unsworth, soon to lead the corporation after four years after leaving its news division about impartiality, accountability and making the most of a shrinking budget. it's been a significant week for a bbc with monday's announcement from culture secretary nadine dorries that the licence fee would be frozen for the next two years. bbc�*s chairman richard sharp
reacted like this. what it means for the bbc is with less money in real terms, we are going to have to address how we do what we do differently. and they will have to be changes and consequences. if you diminish capital resources there are going to be affects. now, bbc has already had ten years of real reduction by about 30%. the news department has not been exempt from those cuts with an £80 million savings target to be met by this year. and that's meantjob losses in areas such as political and business news. some viewers have been detecting an effect on the output over recent months. with hannah fearn tweeting... well, let's talk to fran unsworth who firstjoined the bbc in 1980, starting in local radio but who rose
to become its director of news and current affairs and she retires next week. thank you, fran for coming on newswatch. it's a pleasure. would you say you're leaving bbc news in a better place that you first started working here? well, it's a very different place then when i first started working here because of course we do so much more output. so, when ijoined bbc news it was just radio and television. and now there is the website, social, the app, there is continuous news tv, radio, continuous news so there's a lot more of it. is that better or worse? it's better in that i think we are responding to what people want and how they live their lives and how they don't want to just kind of make an apointment to see news or to see news they needed there, instantly so it's
better in that respect. it is the quality of what we do worse or better? i think the quality of what we do is actually incredibly good. you mentioned quality, but as you've heard, some people think there has been a loss of quality because of the cuts that you've had to make of the past few years. recently the bbc admitted it had been a mistake to interview the lawyer alan dershowitz after ghislaine maxwell's conviction. do you accept that with fewer experience journalists in the newsroom mistakes are going to happen like that even more? well, mistakes do happen. i'm not going to deny that. but i think in that particular case, it was less to do with cuts, to be honest and more to do with covid. it was also the 28th of december, it was night, i think the teams are actually quite thinned out come no doubt about it but that's not because of cuts so much as where we are between christmas and new year. really? people thought you should have just googled alan dershowitz, you'd have known you should be putting them on the air in that context. well, possibly, actually,
i think the teams now know that actually they could of avoided it by doing some kind of more considered handovers to each other on it. and we admitted it was a mistake and dealt with it. mistakes happen, they do. but i don't necessarily think there are any more of them now than when ijoined the bbc nearly a0 years ago. or if there are is probably a factor of having so much more output. after this week's announcement on the licence fee, bbc news is going to have to make more cuts, it's a tough time. is it time to just cut a whole programme or a service like say, newsnight? well, it might be something we would want to look at. obviously we are in the early stages of what this licence fee settlement means. we have planned quite carefully over the past few years. as you've alluded in news, part of our plan, wasn'tjust about taking money out it was in order to us to shape news for the future so that we could have more impact with what we were doing
across a greater number of platforms and also put digital at the heart of our commissioning process. now, it's not for me to second—guess my successors views about if there are any further cuts expected of the news division where those might be. i'm sure that she will come and have a look around and think about it. but where we start from is, what are the audiences that we need to serve and how do we need to serve them? let's pause there for a moment, since you've been in post you faced the busier news agenda than journalist can remember and this week was no exception with the temperature at west minister raised to fever pitch. tonight at ten, we are live in downing street after day in which borisjohnson faced a wave of calls for his resignation. is it all over prime minister? we mentioned on last week's programme complaints that the bbc coverage of those downing street parties has been excessive
and biased against the prime minister. and those continued this week for instance with this phone call. i'm ringing to complain about the amount of news on boris johnson. it's about time you stopped being judge, jury and executioner. i think as for the bbc being impartial, i most certainly don't think you are. as ever though another side to the story, philip pooley agreed that... you have been in news for a very long time so complaints like that you know, one side and then the other side won't come as a surprise. does it feel to you the polarisation of political views has become kind of nastier? it's a really interesting question, whether it's become nastier. it certainly feels more polarised, yes.
and it certainly feels as though people kind of want a default a bit to their own echo chambers sometimes. and if they don't see the views that they agree with reflected then i do think they perceive us as being biased. but you know, ourjob is to hold a national conversation. ourjob is to show people that there is a whole range of views on every subject. i don't subscribe to the view that just because we are getting hammered by both sides, one set of the audience sees us as biased and the other from another political perspectives sees us biased too, we must be getting it right. i don't buy into that idea. but i do think that the whole nature of discourse has been quite impacted by social media, for instance. it's become pretty robust, it's become quite difficult,
very difficult for some of ourjournalists who are repeatedly subjected to online abuse of the most horrible, vicious nature, quite often. misogynistic, laura kuensberg, mari spring, i think that's what i have seen changed over the course of my career. it's interesting you say that because we do get complaints from viewers that they feel bbc politicaljournalists are often putting a personal spin on stories. i wonder if that compromises the bbc�*s commitment to impartiality. yes, it would do and that's why we brought out social media guidelines to remind our staff that we need to be cautious in the social media space about your insertion of your own political views and political opinions. because if we are not impartial
there is no point to us. we can't charge a licence fee off everybody in the uk if we are not impartial. it's beholden on all of our staff to remember that and to act accordingly in that way. stay with us again, fran. we want to talk about another of the principles behind bbc news which is accountability. we want to talk in fact a little bit about newswatch itself, this programme started in 2004 after the hutton inquiry which strongly criticised the bbc over its coverage of the lead up to the iraq war and the death of the government scientist, david kelly. in response newswatch was established as part of an initiative to make the bbc news more accountable. but viewers regularly question whether it is truly fulfilling that role. here's howard price.
how would you answer that? we obviously don't take the view that 99% of the time were always right. and i will admit we don't always get everything right. we actually, i think, executive from news do appear on newswatch quite frequently. we checked, the big story is you're not coming on. we normally would give a statement if an existing a statement if an existing isn't available. i would also say is not the bit of accountability that the bbc has in place, of course. we have feedback on radio. and we have the most robust complaints process as well. which means that anybody can write in a complaint and get an answer to it.
under your tenure there's been a number of controversy on bbc management such as, at the revelations of martin bashir and the row over naga munchetty�*s comments on breakfast about donald trump. what's your biggest regret? i've got quite a few, to be honest. hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it? you look back and you say oh, if only a taken a slightly decision there. i'm not going to go into them here but believe me there are some things i wish i had done differently over the course of my career. it would be arrogant and blind of me not to recognise that. fran unsworth, thank you for coming on newswatch. thank you very much. and thank you for all your comments this week. if you want to share your comments on what you see, hear or read on bbc news on tv, radio, online and social media e—mail newswatch. or you can find us on twitter. you can call us.
and do have a look at our website for previous interviews. that's all from us. will be back to hear you thoughts about bbc news next week. bye— bye. slow rising temperature here in redding it was only 5 degrees in the afternoon. some sunshine in the northeast of scotland and here temperatures were in double figures. dry, high pressure zone charges for been a dominant feature of the weather for the last ten days or so. there is a weak weather front approaching the far northwest eventually that will bring a bit of rain mainly to the highlands later on in the night. i have a lot of clout coming in but some breaks lightly across some southern and eastern parts of england. and for a while in eastern scotland so these
areas will be quite chilly, at risk of some frost but it's nowhere near as cold in some parts of the uk than it was last night. we start the weekend with a lot of cloud but probably drive for the most part. that's where it's going to stay for the next five days. this is a rain fall accumulation, the next five days. this is a rain fallaccumulation, most the next five days. this is a rain fall accumulation, most places completely dry. rain is more likely up completely dry. rain is more likely up towards the northwest into the highlands. the weekend is not to be quite as cold, still drive for most places with a lot more cloud around during this weekend so that will limit the frost and also the fog as well. we start with a lot of clout on saturday. some sunshine, more especially across easton areas of the uk. that week weather front straddling scotland, a little light rain in the west otherwise it's a dry day. a lot of glaucoma temperatures not bad for the time of year, eight, nine across england and wales with a double figures more widely across scotland and also northern ireland. that's because he hires scented board to the south of the uk put up around the top with
that stronger wins, the uk put up around the top with that strongerwins, milderair coming in from the atlantic, the really cold there, that's a long way away, across eastern parts of europe. the second half of the weekend it's more of the same. could be a chilly start and places, wanted to mist and fog patch is otherwise a lot of cloud. some sunshine now and again probably more because each of cloud. some sunshine now and again probably more courses in scotland because we got us stronger wind again a lot of dry weather. those temperatures of around six to 8 degrees pretty widely. heading into the early part of next week and things don't change very much at all because high—pressure is still going to be in charge, away from the northwest it will be dry, a lot of cloud around, some sunshine now it again decent temperatures.
this is bbc news with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. with russian troops massed near ukraine's borders, the us and russia hold "frank" talks about moscow's intentions. washington warns of "massive consequences". if any russian military forces move across ukraine's border, that's a renewed invasion. it will be met with swift, severe and a united response from the united states. aid agencies say an air strike by the saudi—led coalition on a prison in yemen has killed dozens of people. french vaccine pass ruled to be constitutional. from monday, bars and cinemas will require proof of covid vaccination. meat loaf, the rock legend whose bat out of hell album is one