09/11/2012 Newswatch


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Welcome to Newswatch. There was then election across the pond, and


many have you thought we saw too much of it. Which one is the break?


What could go wrong? Things did go wrong. Do steering a bus and been


live on camera go well together? A common criticism of the American


system is that President can spend half of their term campaigning for


re-election. Similar criticism has been made of BBC News. On Tuesday


nights, but finally -- the moment finally came. An election for our


times, sealed with a tweet. BBC presenters and correspondents were


sent out in force to Washington and across the United States to


supplement US-based staff. It may comprehensive coverage too much for


There were objections to be tone of the reporting, with one particular


viewer noticing one particular phrase. It has been too close to


call. It is too close to call. turned out to be not that close


There is much to discuss and to do so I am joined by two of our view


was. Jane Robinson and Karen McManus. Also here is the BBC's


World news editor. Can you sum up your concern about this excess of


BBC coverage of the US presidential elections? It was the number of


reporters from the UK that was sent out to supplement the US reporting


team. I could not understand why there was a need to do this, given


the strength of the team in the US. Plus the current financial


situation - how much did it cost to send these people out? How could


the BBC justify sending out people from the UK when there is a robust


reporting team? The main coverage was done out of Our Washington


studio. Huw Edwards, Dimbleby and others who could have done the sent


out of a UK studio. Was it justified sending all those


reporters? We actually sent 20 % less. What is that in figures?


terms of reporters and presenters, we are talking less than 20,


between a dozen and 20. That is not a lot of people. This is one of the


key events of the year. On Wednesday, the BBC website had its


biggest day of the year, so it shows there is an audience appetite


for this kind of story, and it was done cheaper than we did four years


ago. I don't think that is a valid justification. My analogy would be


the way the BBC tanagers people such as bankers and business people


about the money they spend, money that has been provided to them by


the public, and when you have got such a good team in the US and


correspondents who don't get the airtime, is that not the


opportunity to develop these individuals to do so so that you


don't have to send people from the UK to do this? On election night,


David Dimbleby is the face of the BBC. We did want election programme


across the domestic and global audiences. We did one election


programme on Radio, the World Service and Radio 4, precisely for


the reasons you identified. We are aware this is public money and we


need to demonstrate we are spending it wisely.


Would the BBC really excessive in comparison to other channels?


think it was. I think it seemed as if you were going to spend a set


amount of time on the election. I am interested to hear about the


election, but I did feel there was a lot of irrelevant reporting going


on. There were a lot of interviews with American citizens, there was a


lot of analysis of the opinion polls, which proved to be false. It


just seemed excessive and I found it a bit of a turn-off, really.


was struck by the number of interviews with punters in bars.


Was the result really too close to call? I think it was. In certain


areas there was only 80 % difference. Because of the way the


electoral college works, it appears less. The why not then just give


the result? America is a key player in the world. Today, we are in


China reporting on the transition... But you build it up for weeks and


months in advance. There is a difference. The primaries begin in


January and there is a competition as to who will be the challenger to


the President. We have an obligation to report that. When I


come on this programme time after time, but thing people say to me is


we don't provide the context or we dip into stories and don't follow


them through. Starting at the beginning and finishing at their


end is not about where to go about our business. I know there is a


bigger concern for you about BBC coverage of America and I think


Hurricane Sandy coverage concerned you as well. Yes. We heard nothing


about the Caribbean. I have seen nothing of the devastation they had


been through. I feel we are obsessed with the USA, to the


exclusion of other world news. might surprise Jane by St I agree


with her and that is why we went out of a way to report from Cuba.


Will grant was in Cuba went Hurricane Sandy struck. But there


were over-excited reporters or over the east coast reporting on


Hurricane Sandy. I would not say they were over-excited. I am


sympathetic with Jane's comments, but like it or not, what happens in


the United States is significant. I think there is a legitimate sense


of reporting those events. I am grateful to both Jane and Karen for


their comments. Thank you all for coming in. Just time for want of a


topic that has caught your attention - an item on Tuesday


morning's breakfast show. The programme sent its correspondent


out on the buses to illustrate a story about more funding for the


industry. After a couple of minutes struggling, eventually she got the


bus started. Right, give me 10 more seconds. It is meant to work


perfectly on TV, isn't it? Here we go. Both hands on the wheel. They


short journey did not go quite as planned. Which one is the break?


have hit the bollards! They are dispensable, people aren't! Move


away from the bus. She hasn't stopped. She is still going. Well,


some viewers were less than amused. Derek Cooper from the Institute of


Transport Administration had Well, we did ask the programme for


Thank you for all your comments. If you want to share your opinions on


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