Foreign boost for BBC2 as flagship gets new editor

O’Connor: will extend Correspondent’s scope

A new editor of BBC2’s Correspondent has been appointed as the channel’s controller, Jane Root, announced plans for more peak-time foreign affairs programmes.

Karen O’Connor, a former Newsnight and Panorama deputy editor, replaces Fiona Murch, who left the programme after four years to take up a new post of senior executive producer responsible for BBC2’s specials output – a job created as part of a shake-up of the BBC’s current affairs by head of the department, Peter Horrocks.

O’Connor, who began her journalism career as a reporter working on Australia’s Channel 9, worked as a news editor for TV-am until 1988 when she moved to the BBC and eventually worked as an output editor for the Six O’Clock News before joining Newsnight.

At Panorama, O’Connor was responsible for the investigation into the Omagh bombing by John Ware and Michael Crick’s special on Jeffrey Archer that was broadcast the night the former MP was imprisoned. Both won accolades at the Royal Television Society awards.

O’Connor then moved to the BBC’s factual and learning department as executive producer. She takes up her new post in July.

"I’ve always been interested in working in a range of different formats and styles, and the mix on a programme like Correspondent is very exciting," said O’Connor, who acknowledged the programme had "a fantastic track record".

"I would like to extend its scope, so that it looks at a wider range of countries," she added. "It’s been great in encouraging new voices as well, but I would like to see more reporters going out and finding out things for themselves. There are some very professional and talented journalists, so I would like to give them their voice a little bit more and give them permission to be a bit more opinionated."

The appointment coincides with the BBC’s announcement that eight hour-long foreign affairs specials commissioned by O’Connor will go out in a weekday slot at 9pm.

As a result, Correspondent will continue in its Sunday evening slot at 7.15pm but will be broadcast in three blocks of six throughout the year instead of its current run of 28 programmes.

A further eight programmes have been commissioned, which will be broadcast first on BBC4 and then on BBC2.

BBC2 controller Root said: "The BBC has an excellent track record in intelligent, thought-

provoking foreign affairs journalism. This move will increase the funding of BBC foreign affairs and give it a spot in the heart of the BBC schedule, bringing a wider potential audience to great stories from across the globe."

By Julie Tomlin

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