Nigel Huddleston, Member of Parliament for Mid Worcestershire and member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has welcomed today’s Government White Paper ‘A BBC for the future: A Broadcaster of Distinction’ a result of months of consultation with the public.
As part of Mr Huddleston’s work in Parliament he is a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. The Committee held an inquiry into the BBC Charter Review and published a report in February which the government considered in developing the White Paper..
The Government has set out reforms to the BBC to make sure it remains a valued public broadcaster for years to come. The proposals take into account views from more than 190,000 people who contributed to the Government consultation.
The key reforms will:
· Create a new mission statement for the BBC to empower the BBC to make even more great programmes for audiences to enjoy, and with a focus on more distinctive output that informs, educates and entertains.
· Overhaul of how the BBC is governed and regulated with a new, strong unitary board for the BBC to be established, consisting of between 12-14 members. The BBC will be responsible for appointing at least half of the board members.
· Make Ofcom the external independent regulator of the BBC following recommendations by the independent review from Sir David Clementi.
· Separate future Charter Reviews from the political cycle with an 11-year Charter that will provide long-term stability and independence for the BBC.
· Modernised the licence fee will be to require all those who consume BBC on-demand content, such as BBC iPlayer, to pay the licence fee and the BBC will introduce more flexible payment plans for paying the licence fee.
· Further strengthen the BBC’s editorial independence with specific clauses in the new Royal Charter to protect the BBC’s impartiality by making it clear in the organisation’s overall mission for the first time.
· Open the BBC’s programme-making to greater competition by removing the in-house guarantee for all television content spend except news and news-related current affairs, providing hundreds of millions of pounds of new opportunities for the independent sector, help drive efficiency savings and provide new creative opportunities for the BBC.
· Ensure that the BBC serves all nations and regions in the UK, with a continued commitment to the out-of-London production targets, and make sure the BBC supports and invigorates local news provision across the UK.
“Many people have been in contact with me about the future of the BBC, expressing suggestions and concerns - and I am glad many of the fears were allayed in this White Paper which confirms the funding model for the BBC and strengthens governance arrangements. The BBC will be in a stronger, not weaker position as a result of the recommendations in the white paper.
The licence fee will be maintained and will rise in line with inflation. The BBC will also be encourage to exploit its content library which may add to its funds. There is no suggestion of government interference in programme scheduling or banning of popular programmes as some scaremongers had suggested. Also the BBC itself will be able to appoint the majority of Board directors and therefore outvote government appointees (should they wish to do so) at any time.
Changes are needed at the BBC. The BBC remains a popular and much loved institution but it has not been well served by its current governance arrangements. As a largely publicly funded broadcaster the BBC must offer good value for money to licence fee payers, and be appropriately accountable for its spending, for its editorial decisions, and for the conduct of its staff.
Improving the BBC’s accountability and transparency will help it to continue to innovate and create superb programming, while addressing the issues that plague the BBC and its somewhat introspective culture.”
For more information contact Nigel Huddleston on 07789983719 or his Parliamentary office on 0207 219 5814.