BBC director general says it is not their job to ‘catch out’ politicians

PUBLISHED: 09:15 30 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:15 30 January 2020

Boris Johnson is interviewed by Andrew Neil. Photograph: BBC.

Boris Johnson is interviewed by Andrew Neil. Photograph: BBC.

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Outgoing BBC director general Tony Hall has criticised the corporation for trying to ‘catch out’ politicians with its journalism.

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Hall, who will move into a top role at the National Gallery after leaving the broadcaster, said the BBC had to more carefully consider its role.

"I'm a great believer in the long form political interview where you can explore at length, not in soundbites, the real policy decisions that politicians are making," he said at the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 event.

The comments came as the BBC announced cuts to its news division as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Plans to axe Victoria Derbyshire's BBC Two programme have already been leaked, while flagship shows like Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme are also expected to have to make efficiencies.

Lord Hall said the commission's journalism should reflect the difficulties of making political decisions.

"Exploring those sort of nuances is an important part of what we should do."

Newsnight lead presenter Emily Maitlis responded to Lord Hall's comments by warning against scripted interviews, insisting "engaging" encounters would ensure audience retention.

"That doesn't mean everything has to be a battle, far from it, but you do have to leave the audience feeling if they look away they will miss something," the journalist told The Times.

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