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
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
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

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam