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BBC Trust suggests 11-year Charter

The BBC Trust has published its initial response to the Government’s Green Paper on the BBC’s Charter Review, and launched the first phase of its own consultation on the future of the BBC with audiences across the UK.

The Trust is calling for the BBC to remain a universal and independent broadcaster, which aims to provide something for everyone. The Trust’s research over the past eight years has shown that this is widely supported by the BBC’s audiences.

The Green Paper response says that if the BBC is to retain a broad mission and public funding, it needs clear boundaries and independent regulation, and it sets out some thoughts on the best way of achieving this.

The Trust has also called for clear boundaries around the Government’s involvement in the BBC in future, including:

  • Additional protections for the BBC’s independence should be considered, such as an eleven-year Charter to provide more time between fixed date General Elections and the end of the next Charter; and
  • A legal obligation in the next Charter for the Government to undertake a public process of consultation with the BBC’s regulator as part of any future funding negotiations, and to seek Parliamentary approval for any changes to funding, so that the licence fee cannot be set without proper public scrutiny and debate.

Alongside its Green Paper response, the Trust has set out a series of questions asking audiences for their views on the BBC, such as its range of services and the quality of what it provides. This starts the first phase of the Trust’s most comprehensive programme of public consultation yet, which will also include extensive audience research, events in partnership with external organisations, and online engagement.

BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead said the Charter Review would ultimately decide what kind of programmes and services audiences get for the BBC they pay for, so the most important voice in the debate is that of the public and the Trust would ensure it is heard. “We welcome the Government’s recognition of the importance of the BBC and the value that it brings – that value is built on its providing something for everyone and its independence, which we know audiences support,” she added.

The views gathered in the first phase of the consultation will be used by the Trust in further responding to the Government’s Green Paper. A second phase, which is expected to begin in the autumn, will look at any specific proposals and initiatives put forward by the BBC Executive for the future of the BBC.

Alongside the consultation, the Trust will carry out an extensive programme of audience research to consider what the BBC should look like in the future.

 

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