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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 12:47 GMT
News or puff?
Breakfast trails ahead to an edition of Panorama
Some viewers think that BBC news should not "trail" other BBC output
Does BBC News devote too much time to featuring other BBC programmes within its bulletins? The issue has come to the fore recently after the screening of a three-part series, Facing the Truth, shown on BBC Two in the week of March 4th.

The series brought together victims and perpetrators of Northern Ireland's conflict in the presence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Some viewers objected to the way the series was highlighted on the Six O'Clock News.

"We are used to having to watch trailers for BBC programmes during Breakfast but how do you justify spending five minutes on today's Six O'Clock News on a trailer for the programme about reconciliation in Northern Ireland? This is not news and there was no reason to show it", wrote Helen Hooley.

Chris Maclean felt similarly: "Please can you discriminate between news items (arrests in Tonbridge re the robbery) and programme plugs (Facing the Truth)."

Other programmes highlighted in news bulletins over the last week include Peter Taylor's Panorama special on the "shoot to kill" policy that led to the wrongful killing of the Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes, and John Sweeney's BBC Two documentary on bungled hospital operations.

Chris Towns noted: "Now being very cynical this looks very like 'covert programme trails'... Don't you think we get enough trails between programmes without also having them in programmes too?"

Peter Horrocks
We make our minds up simply according to the news value of these pieces
Peter Horrocks
Head of television news
These questions were put to head of television news, Peter Horrocks, on NewsWatch on News 24. He said that research shows that most viewers like to be given information about when they can find programmes featured, but that news judgement had to determine which stories were covered.

"I think in an increasingly complex world of a lot of different channels, the BBC explaining to audiences where material is available is a useful signposting and a service which most viewers appreciate. Obviously, we have to apply news judgement to the stories that we cover."

In the Neil Review of BBC Journalism, conducted after Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of David Kelly, BBC journalists were advised to be careful to apply normal journalistic standards in assessing the significance of stories originated by colleagues. It concluded that journalists "should not give a story undue prominence just because it is a 'BBC story'".

Peter Horrocks said he was confident that the recent programmes featured had been legitimate. "Just this week there was a story we were going to run on the Ten O'Clock News in relation to a BBC Two documentary which ended up not running for strong news reasons on the day.

"We make our minds up simply according to the news value of these pieces and then, having decided do that, we think it's a service to tell the audience when that programme is or where they can get some on-demand content or go to a website.".

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