BBC consolidates politics Twitter feeds as part of social media streamlining

Some of the BBC's best-known Twitter accounts for its political programming have been shut down as part of a wider drive by the broadcaster to simplify its social-media channels.

BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show and BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions and Westminster Hour are among the programmes with accounts that have been closed this month. They will now be promoted through the @BBCPolitics account, using hashtags to denote the relevant programmes.

Politics Live, which has replaced the BBC’s Daily and Sunday Politics shows, and began broadcasting this month on BBC Two, does not have its own Twitter account.

Tweets from a range of BBC political TV and radio programmes are now coming from the general BBC Politics account.

However, not all its political programmes have had their individual social-media accounts axed. The Twitter account for BBC One’s Question Time, the corporation's flagship political debate programme, remains open, although the programme has been on its summer break ahead of a return to TV screens this week.

The decision to axe the accounts of some of the BBC’s biggest politics shows has proved controversial.  

Responding to the closure of The Andrew Marr Show’s Twitter account, which has more than 80,000 followers, former BBC Newsnight deputy editor Jess Brammar, now head of news at Huffington Post UK, tweeted: "This is bad strategy. I know BBC digital team want to centralise stuff but you have 80,000 people that want to follow your tweets, they might not want a steady stream of politics from the main account."

She added that in the "current climate political programmes need distinct personalities".

And former BBC journalist Habiba Khanom commented: "I've been #marr's digital producer for 4 years & only recently left the BBC. Tried hard to grow the twitter account & built up a personality for the show via twitter. Not sure what I think about it all going onto one account. It’s confusing & will turn people off."

Responding to the criticisms, John Shield, the BBC’s director of comms and corporate affairs (pictured below), said: "There is always a huge diversity of views around how social media is used. We are simply looking at ways to offer the best possible experience for the public and trying that out. It's part of our bigger strategy to reinvent the BBC for a new generation and a sign that we are keen to experiment to get it right."

Speaking to PRWeek, he said: "The way the BBC delivers social media is simply too complex. There are over 1,500 social accounts."

Shield added: "It's important to have focus and there are plenty of social media users who want a joined-up experience where they don't need to go to several places to get the very best of our content.

"It's part of our duty as the BBC to ensure that everyone can easily find their way to news and information they can trust and we think this will help.

"We are also looking at our use of third-party platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to make sure BBC content can go even further and what we do can best serve what the audience wants." 

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