In its initial response to the Government White Paper on the BBC, the Corporation’s senior executive and Trust Chair have suggested that further discussion should take place on issues of its governance.
It says that the White Paper affirms the importance of the BBC to the public and to the creative industries. It is a White Paper that will provide the BBC with long-term stability and a strong foundation for the BBC to continue to inform, educate and entertain the entire British public.
It will allow the BBC to be more open, more creative and more distinctive than ever – a beacon of quality, and a standard-bearer of British values, admired the world over.
According to the BBC, the announcement and White Paper published by the Government means that:
Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC, said the White Paper delivered a mandate for the strong, creative BBC the public believe in. “A BBC that will be good for the creative industries – and most importantly of all, for Britain. There has been a big debate about the future of the BBC. Searching questions have been asked about its role and its place in the UK. That’s right and healthy, and I welcome that debate.”
“At the end, we have an 11-year Charter, a licence fee guaranteed for 11 years, and an endorsement of the scale and scope of what the BBC does today. The White Paper reaffirms our mission to inform, educate and entertain all audiences on television, on radio and online,” he noted.
According to Hall, there are some areas where the BBC will continue to talk to the Government to address any remaining issues. These are:
“We have an honest disagreement with the Government on this,” admitted Hall. “I do not believe that the appointments proposals for the new unitary board are yet right. We will continue to make the case to government. It is vital for the future of the BBC that its independence is fully preserved.”
“While there are many things we strongly back and endorse in the White Paper, the current proposals for the unitary board require further consideration. In terms of the process, we think the chairman and deputy chairman should be appointed by the Government through an independent public appointments process. After that, we want a board that is the right size, with the right balance of skills and the right talents, appointed in the right way.”
Rona Fairhead, Chairman of BBC Trust, said: “We recognise that the Government has moved, but we need to debate these issues to ensure the arrangements for the board achieve the correct balance of independence, public oversight and operational effectiveness. We believe there is more than enough time to get this right, and we will continue to discuss this with the Government.”
The White Paper confirmed that Fairhead would continue as Chair of the BBC through to the end of the current term (October 2018). “I am delighted to have been asked to continue as BBC Chairman and to lead the first BBC board – it is a real privilege,” she declared. “The BBC is one of the UK’s great institutions, respected and admired around the world and a positive force in the UK’s vibrant creative economy. I am absolutely committed, on behalf of the public, to ensure that the BBC continues to produce the highest quality programmes and remains a place where creativity flourishes and independence is protected and treasured. This at a time while establishing a new governance structure. I will be working closely with Ofcom and the Director General to achieve this in the coming months.”
“We have had a constructive engagement with Government but we will continue to work on some outstanding areas of concern to ensure that the independence of the BBC is assured.”