A Select Committee on Communications of the House of Lords, the UK’s upper legislative chamber, has found no need for fundamental changes to the BBC’s core mission – to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ – which was set out by the BBC’s founder Director General, Lord Reith, around 50 years ago, suggesting in a report – BBC Charter Review: Reith not revolution – that the BBC remains a cornerstone of British life.
“The BBC is, indeed, a national treasure. It is the envy of countries all over the world and the Select Committee endorsed its role, as it has been since the days of Lord Reith, ‘to inform, educate and entertain’,” declared Lord Best Chairman of the Committee.
“We received no compelling evidence for a reduction in the BBC’s scale and scope. Rather, the Committee sees merit in the universality of the BBC, underlining its special role of reflecting and bringing together the nations, regions and diverse communities of the UK.”
“However, while we are not advocating radical change to the BBC, we do see benefit in its independent regulator, whoever that may be, holding the BBC to account through a clearer, simplified framework. The regulator should also take a lead in recommending the level of the licence fee to the Culture Secretary, and we want to see a new, more open and transparent process replacing the highly unsatisfactory ‘behind closed doors’ practice that has previously surrounded the licence fee settlement.”
“The Select Committee has no disagreement with the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s recommendations for new governance structures (which were not part of the Lords’ inquiry). Our inquiry found evidence for the BBC’s next Charter to be for a longer term, to decouple it from the General Election cycle. This would provide stability for the BBC to allow for long-term planning, as well as protecting its impartiality and independence, which the Charter Renewal process so desperately needs,” he concluded.
Other conclusions and recommendations: