BBC told to place entertainment at heart of service

Unveiling the Government's White Paper on the future of the BBC, the Culture Secretary said one of the clearest messages to emerge from a public consultation on last year's Green Paper was a concern that the Government was in danger of losing sight of the importance of entertainment to the BBC.

Ms Jowell said: "Licence- fee payers told us it all sounded a bit worthy. What they cared about most was getting BBC programmes they wanted to watch and listen to. So the White Paper makes entertainment central to the BBC's mission. The BBC should continue to take fun seriously engraining entertainment into its services.

"This isn't about writing the BBC a blank cheque or chasing ratings through copycat programming. It is about ensuring that the BBC deliver what licence- fee payers deserve: quality and distinctiveness."

Strictly Come Dancing, Life on Earth and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue were singled out in the White Paper as examples of content that inspired and excited audiences.

The BBC chairman, Michael Grade, said: "People tend to think of public service broadcasting as being rather worthy, but it isn't. The public tell us that they regard Only Fools and Horses, Strictly Come Dancing and EastEnders as just as much part of public service as an esoteric arts documentary on BBC4."

Ms Jowell also confirmed the BBC's "anachronistic" board of governors would be replaced with a new trust, separate from management, which she described as "a unique solution for a unique organisation in unique circumstances". Under the new system, a separate executive board will be answerable to the trust.

The Culture Secretary sought to allay the fears of the BBC's commercial rivals by reassuring them the media regulator Ofcom would carry out a market impact assessment before any new services were launched or any major changes made to existing services.

The trust will also be given a new duty to take competition issues into account while ensuring the BBC is acting in the public interest. But competitors remain concerned that the BBC trust will have the final say in approving new services through a public value test, although the Secretary of State has the power of veto if the correct procedures are not followed.

The White Paper confirmed the BBC would continue to be funded by the licence fee for the next decade, although a review considering alternative forms of funding after that will be instigated in 2012.

No decision on the BBC's demand for the licence fee to be increased by 2.3 per cent above inflation will be made until the summer but, as part of the settlement, the Government is considering asking the BBC to provide some financial assistance for Channel 4, including helping the broadcaster to meet the cost of digital switchover.

It is also looking at the possibility of distributing the licence fee beyond the BBC after 2016. The White Paper charges the BBC with acting as a "trusted guide" to an age of personal video recorders, television via over mobile phones and the internet and high definition television.

The shadow Culture Secretary, Hugo Swire, attacked the Government's blueprint for the BBC, saying it was "a disappointment". He said: "Is not the BBC trust any more than the BBC governors in another building - just as cosy, twice the rent?"

Main points

* Entertainment to be placed at the heart of the BBC's mission

* A new trust and separate executive board to replace the board of governors

* Ofcom to carry out a market impact assessment on changes to BBC services

* The trust will take on a new duty to consider competition issues

* Six new purposes set out: citizenship, education, creativity, reflecting the UK's nations and regions, promoting the BBC overseas and building digital Britain.

* BBC may be asked to provide financial assistance to Channel 4

* The BBC to help steer the public through digital switchover

* Independent production companies will be able to bid to make an extra 25 per cent of programmes

* Licence fee guaranteed to 2016

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - London - £40K plus benefits - Salary negotiable

£38000 - £40000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: A leading consu...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Manager

£55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat