James Ashton: Beeb must yet again define its mission

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The Independent Online

The only downside to Sir Simon Rattle's uplifting performance with the Berliner Philharmoniker on Thursday night was that they couldn't be persuaded to stretch to an encore by the enthusiastic Royal Albert Hall audience.

The Proms has had a quiet year, overshadowed by the Olympics, but is no less of a success. Both events serve as a reminder of the BBC's popularity, even after it stumbled with its Jubilee coverage. Just like the Queen, the Beeb benefits from a boom in patriotism. So to hear that BBC bosses are concerned about the corporation's future is as surprising as the Queen worrying about a fresh bout of republicanism.

The problem, it seems, is the lack of problems in the in-tray of incoming director-general George Entwistle. The corporation has worked out how to operate within the boundaries of a frozen licence fee and its critics from the business world, namely the Murdoch clan, are more focused on containing their phone-hacking scandal.

With the renewal of its charter due in 2016, the BBC must again redefine its mission. All those businesses that have complained in the past that the BBC has overreached itself – in running events, websites or extraneous radio stations – should be mindful of the opportunity to shape the debate.