Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Monday, 16 June 2008 18:28 UK

More devolved issues for BBC news

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson said "significant improvement" was needed

In-depth news programmes such as Newsnight should spend more time covering devolved politics, the BBC's director general said.

Mark Thompson said there needed to be "significant improvement" in the BBC's network coverage of the UK's nations.

He was giving evidence to a Welsh Assembly inquiry into broadcasting.

A recent report to the BBC Trust found the corporation needed to improve the range and clarity of its network coverage of the nations and regions.

Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme had the ability to "compare and contrast" what was happening in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Mr Thomson said.

Of 37 stories that dealt with devolved matters during four weeks of broadcasting analysed for the report, only one related to Wales.

Mr Thompson said: "Clearly there are a number of areas where we can and must make significant improvement."

'Positive figures'

"A particular focus on those programmes - BBC News Channel, the Today programme, Newsnight will all be examples - where there is the space to in particular take the opportunity to compare and contrast," he added.

However Mr Thompson suggested there had been a problem of regional and national news programmes withholding their best stories from the network.

"Sometimes actually we found our nations and regions are not quite as forthcoming with the best stories as they otherwise might have been because they are saving it for their own programmes," he added.

A BBC Wales spokesperson said: "BBC Wales news teams have an excellent relationship with their network colleagues and we share our stories with them everyday.

"There is a responsibility for all our news teams to provide the best news coverage possible for all audiences."

The chairman of the Assembly's Broadcasting Committee, Alun Davies, also questioned the number of network programmes, including drama, that were commissioned from and made in Wales.

BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons, who also gave evidence, said: "It (last week's report) does show a deficit in terms of the breadth and precision of BBC network reporting.

"We are clear that needs to be addressed."

But it also contained "some strongly positive figures" on how much the BBC was valued by its viewers and listeners.

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