The BBC has been warned its efforts to become more impartial must not lead to "insipid" programme-making.

The claim is made in a new report from the corporation's governing body the BBC Trust that was initially commissioned by its predecessor the board of governors.

It insists that impartiality across all genres is "essential" to ensure that the BBC fulfils its contract to viewers, who both own and fund the broadcaster.

Today's report, launched to ensure the BBC remained impartial "in the face of rapid technological and social change", is designed to complement the corporation's existing impartiality guidelines.

Accompanying research conducted by the report's panel found that 84 per cent of consumers considered impartiality as difficult to achieve, while two-thirds said all broadcasters regarded themselves as more neutral than they actually were.

And eight in ten argued that the BBC should report on all views; no matter how unpopular they are.

"We know that audiences demand and value impartiality as essential to the BBC's independence. They particularly value impartiality in news, and they recognise its importance in other programme areas," commented BBC trustee and steering group chairman Richard Tait.

"But BBC audiences believe that impartiality should not lead to political correctness. The BBC agrees and one of our new principles makes clear that impartiality is no excuse for insipid programme-making.

"Providing space for controversial and passionate writers and contributors of all kinds will ensure impartiality is an antidote to political correctness."

The report criticises the corporation for screening an episode of comedy The Vicar of Dibley that promoted the Make Poverty History charity campaign, and quotes former political editor Andrew Marr as saying the BBC possesses an "innate liberal bias".

Responding to the report, BBC deputy director general Mark Byford, recognised that impartiality was a "core value" for BBC licence payers, and a "hallmark" of the service being offered.

18/06/2007 11:54:35