The BBC has been a part of British society for nearly ninety years, supplying us, both on Radio and TV, with news, entertainment, sport and amazing documentaries. It is a huge source of pride for everyone in the UK and is the global benchmark which so many other broadcasters aspire to reach, we therefore need to ensure its survival for future generations.
Last week the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale MP, for whom I am Parliamentary Private Secretary, delivered the Government’s White Paper on the BBC’s new Royal Charter. This aims to put in place the supporting framework to strengthen the BBC and help it thrive in the ever changing world of media and continue to deliver an excellent service for taxpayers.
To make it more accountable to the license fee payer the White Paper proposed an overhaul of how the BBC is governed. A new unitary board will be established to replace the BBC Governors and the current BBC Trust to ensure a clearer separation between those in governance and editorial positions. The BBC will also focus on distinctive content which serves all communities. This means more ambitious programming in TV and Radio but at the same time continuing to make popular programmes such as Sherlock, Strictly Come Dancing and Doctor Who. Furthermore, it is intended to embed the core principal of impartiality in the BBC to ensure its reputation at home and abroad as a trusted fact based provider.
To help support our fantastic creative industries the BBC’s commissioning will become fully competitive by allowing independent producers to bid to produce programmes, except news, for the first time. Previously this had all been done ‘in house’. The BBC World Service will be protected and receive an additional £85 million annually to help it represent the UK and keep our country and the BBC name on the world stage.
As with any public finances, the need for transparency and value for money is paramount. That is why the BBC’s new financial auditor, the National Audit Office, will oversee how the £3.7 billion from license fee payers is spent to ensure we all get value for money. Finally, it agreed, the license fee remains the most appropriate funding system and will continue to rise in line with inflation to 2021-22 at which point it will be reviewed.
This new Royal Charter is the result of many months of hard work by involved parties and vast in-depth consultation with the public, indeed the consultation resulted in the second highest number of responses a Government report has ever received, over 170,000 replies.
These changes to our treasured BBC will ensure its longevity as a provider which creates amazing TV and Radio programming for us all to enjoy.
(This article was originaly written for the Burton Mail).