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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower