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NEW BBC CHARTER & AGREEMENT – News Release

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News Release  15 September 2016 – for immediate use

NEW BBC CHARTER & AGREEMENT

Today the Government has published the draft new Charter and Agreement for the next eleven years

It will take a while to read, digest, analyse and respond to the detailed proposals. However, our responses to the key points and summary of the drafts from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport are as follows:

Peter Blackman, Strategic Director, Save Our BBC said:

  • “Licence fee payers have more than ‘a right to know where their money goes’, to have more transparency and see that they get value for money. Until now the Chair and Governors or Trustees have been responsible for representing the licence fee payers. Who in future will be able to say such things as have been said today by the BBC Trust, that is:
    • ‘We don’t agree with the Government on everything and are disappointed with the decision on the disclosure of presenters’ pay. We don’t believe this is in the long-term interests of licence fee payers.’
  • Who in future will be able to make the strategic points we make below and be seen to debate them transparently with the BBC Board?
  • We acknowledge that the licence fee payers are not the only stakeholders to whom the BBC [unitary board under the new Charter proposals] will be accountable. All the other stakeholders will have some body [person or organisation] seen to represent them eg Government, Ofcom. Parliament, NAO, other broadcasters, other media. As concluded and recommended in our report http://saveourbbc.net/inquiry/ accountability is more than just consultation, involvement, research and transparency. It is also engagement, dialogue and direct response [not necessarily agreement]. Licence fee payers for the first time will not have some body external, to and independent from, the management of the BBC to ‘fight their corner’. This in the 21st century when ‘the changing digital world’ provides more means than ever before for effective engagement and accountability.
  • Limited Transparency is not helpful or enough; simply making the BBC publish what it pays talented employees is insufficient; it will only make sense if other UK broadcasters have to do the same so the licence fee payers see the context and can judge the value they get; the BBC operates in the mixed economy media market and that’s where it must be judged.
  • Financial audit and full scrutiny by The National Audit Office (NAO), or any auditor, must not impinge in any way upon the necessary confidentiality of personnel and commercially sensitive matters, and nor must Parliamentary scrutiny (of the NAO and BBC) and privilege do so either.
  • In our independent Inquiry Report http://saveourbbc.net/inquiry/ we recommended that the unitary board must be effective and independent; we believe a board of 14 can be functional and efficient and welcome the majority that will be given to BBC appointed board members to ensure its independence
  • We note the decision to hold a full, fair and open competition for the post of Chairman of the new BBC Board and recognise this brings increased transparency; nevertheless we pay tribute to the hard work of Rona Fairhead and her predecessors as Chairs of the BBC Trust. all of whom have done their best to fulfil a difficult role which has involved contradictory responsibilities.
  • We absolutely agree with Culture Secretary Karen Bradley MP that ‘The BBC produces world class programming that is admired and respected by [hundreds of – our addition] millions around the world.’
  • So called ‘enhancing the distinctiveness of BBC content’ must not be a veiled device to stop the BBC entertaining in equal measure with informing and educating its audiences.
  • We welcome the clarity brought to the governance and regulation of the BBC with the creation of the new unitary Board governing the BBC and Ofcom regulating the BBC.
  • We welcome the recognition by the Government that the editorial independence of the BBC is sacrosanct.
  • We welcome financial stability for the BBC and continuation of its funding by means of the licence fee.
  • However, we remain gravely concerned that the licence fee settlement, which was not made in transparent fashion, will lead to more severe cuts to BBC content production and delivery of services. The Culture Secretary and Prime Minister have emphasised the need for transparency and independence and we call upon them to rerun the licence fee negotiations accordingly to ensure that the BBC has the resources to enable it to deliver the obligations placed upon it by the draft Charter and Agreement in a full, cost effective way which will deliver value for money and the outputs to ensure the BBC remains the world class broadcaster we all want it to be.
  • The BBC is the market maker of UK broadcasting which is founded and based on public service broadcasting (PSB) principles. It is not an intervention. All broadcasters have joined the market knowing it is a mixed economy driven by the PSB ethos. The BBC must be able to continue to operate and compete fairly in this mixed PSB environment and not be restricted in so doing. 
  • We have consistently called for the BBC better to serve all the nations and regions of the UK with greater devolution, whilst not adversely affecting its ability to benefit from economies of scale. It must also improve as swiftly as possible the internal diversity of its people and the external representation in its content and services.

For further information, interviews and queries please contact:

Peter Blackman

Strategic Director

Save Our BBC CIC

Tel: 07966 170623

Voicemail: 01245 322079

peterblackman@saveourbbc.net

www.saveourbbc.net

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT INQUIRY

News Release             1 September 2016         for immediate use

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT INQUIRY

 

 

REPORT OF INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO:

“THE PUBLIC & THE BBC; WHAT ROLE IN OVERSIGHT & GOVERNANCE?”

Save Our BBC has completed its Inquiry to examine the proper role of the public and the licence fee payers in the future governance of the BBC.

Our Report is published today at: http://saveourbbc.net/inquiry/ 

Peter Blackman, Strategic Director, Save Our BBC, says:

“From the wide-ranging submissions to our independent Inquiry, we conclude that the Licence Fee Payers (the BBC’s audiences, service users, the public, its stakeholders) expect the BBC to be more accountable to them and engage more with them.

No ideas about how this should be done, to replace that part of the present responsibilities of the BBC Trust, have been suggested in the Clementi report or by anyone else, hence our Inquiry. The unitary board and regulator – Ofcom – cannot represent the Licence Fee Payers as well because that would create conflicts of interest.”

The report suggests a new online Licence Fee Payers Forum should be established to be the two-way conduit between the Licence Fee Payers and the BBC; all BBC Board Members must have accountability to it and the Licence Fee Payers in general in their job specifications.

All Licence Fee Payers should be automatic members of Audience Councils for all the BBC’’s channels, services, nations, regions and local radio stations using online platforms with views and information fed to and from the Licence Fee Payers Forum..

The Licence Fee Payers Forum should also be a source and promoter of relevant media literacy supporting a better public understanding of today’s complex media environment.

Peter Blackman added: “We call upon the BBC, BBC Trust, DCMS and Government and Ofcom to work with us and others to devise the necessary mechanisms so that at long last the stakeholders of the BBC, its Licence Fee Payers, do have effective accountability from the BBC and effective engagement with it”

For further information, interviews and queries please contact:

Peter Blackman

Strategic Director

Save Our BBC CIC

Tel: 07966 170623

Voicemail: 01245 322079

peterblackman@saveourbbc.net

www.saveourbbc.net

The inquiry was supported by Cardiff University who offered expert advice and hosted the central workshop.

Note to editors:

The Executive Summary on pp 5-8 provides a representative description of the Inquiry, its context, findings, conclusions and recommendations

Questions we answer include:

  • Is engagement between the BBC and its licence fee payers needed?
  • Should the BBC be more accountable to the licence fee payers?
  • If there is to be more engagement and accountability how can that be done?
  • Should Ofcom as regulator of the BBC be accountable to the licence fee payers and engage with them?
  • Who should appoint the non-executive members of the BBC’s unitary board?
  • In the past, the BBC Trust or the Governors have been responsible for representing the interests of the licence fee payers: that role cannot be delivered by either the BBC’s unitary board or Ofcom as its regulator. So who will represent the licence fee payers, the BBC’s audiences & service users, the public, its stakeholders?
Press Releases
 
Press Releases

News Release             11 April 2016         for immediate use

LAUNCH OF INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO: “THE PUBLIC & THE BBC; WHAT ROLE IN OVERSIGHT & GOVERNANCE?”

Save Our BBC with support from Cardiff University have launched an inquiry to examine the proper role of the public and the licence fee payers in the future governance of the BBC. How should the licence fee payers, members of the radio or tv audiences and users of BBC services fit directly into the way the BBC will work in future? Who in the new governance arrangements for the BBC will have a direct accountable relationship with the BBC’s main stakeholders – those who pay for it, watch it, listen to it and use it?

Are the proposals for people to be appointed by either the Government or the Public Appointments Unit as Non-Executive Directors and leading regulators at Ofcom appropriate or sufficiently independent? Where is the transparency and accountability in the proposed arrangements? 

In the 21st century there are increasing expectations for public transparency and accountability of our institutions. How should these expectations be met in the oversight of the BBC?  How can full independence from political interference be delivered and defended? 

This gap has not been addressed by Sir David Clementi’s report. The Government says its White Paper about the BBC’s future will be published ‘by the summer’. So we are undertaking this Inquiry rapidly so that our findings can be taken into account. 

We are gathering written evidence. We want submissions from individual licence fee payers, members of the BBC’s audiences and users of its services and from media, academic and civil organisations by 5 May 2016.

We will also be holding one or two sessions when, by invitation, we will take oral evidence from a few key organisations and people.

The full details, terms of reference and contact details for this Inquiry are appended.