Government plans to abolish BBC governors, but licence given 10-year extension

The Government plans to abolish the BBC's Board of Governors, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell announced today.

The BBC will continue to be funded by the licence fee for at least 10 years under Government plans announced by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell today.

Ms Jowell told MPs that she intends to abolish the BBC's Board of Governors, replacing them with a new Trust to oversee the corporation's performance and an Executive Board responsible for day-to-day operations.

And she made clear she wants the BBC to give higher priority to public-interest programming, warning that it should not chase "ratings for ratings sake" or "play copycat" with commercial broadcasters.

The proposals sound the death-knell for the system of governance in place since the BBC's creation in 1927, but stop short of the thorough-going reform recommended by the Burns Report, which earlier this year called for the creation of an independent Public Service Broadcasting Commission to act as a regulator for the BBC.

They will disappoint critics of the BBC in the commercial sector, who believe the licence fee should be abolished or shared out between rival broadcasters in order to create a more level playing-field in the competition for audiences

Ms Jowell's proposals, set out in a Green Paper published today, end months of speculation over the future of the licence fee fuelled by the trenchant criticisms of the BBC in Lord Hutton's report on the death of Government scientist David Kelly.

Under the proposals, the BBC's 10-year Royal Charter will be renewed in 2007.

The licence fee will remain at least until the charter comes up for renewal again at the end of 2016, but a review will be set up to consider alternative funding sources - including the possibility of subscriptions for BBC services - after that point.

The level of the licence fee will be set at a later stage in the charter renewal process.

"The BBC, like any public institution, needs to adapt if it is to serve its audiences and keep pace with changes in technology," said Ms Jowell in a statement in the House of Commons.

"Its values, its global reach, its standards and its editorial independence from all-comers must be preserved. Our proposals, including keeping the licence fee and renewing the Charter for another 10 years, will enable it to do just that."

The Board of Governors' dual role as "cheerleader and regulator" for the BBC lacked clarity, transparency and accountability and the creation of the new Trust and Executive Board would create "much-needed daylight" between the two functions, she said.

Ms Jowell said that the chairman of BBC governors Michael Grade, whose term runs until 2008, would become the first chairman of the Trust.

On behalf of the governors, Mr Grade said he accepted their abolition, but expressed regret that the Government had not waited to see the results of the BBC's own reforms aimed at separating the Corporation's governance and management structures.

Mr Grade said the proposed BBC Trust represents "the biggest change in the governance of the BBC in 77 years".

It will be a radical departure for the Corporation but the Board is committed to ensuring an "effective and efficient transition to the new system", he said.

He intends to install director-general Mark Thompson as chairman of the new Executive Board.

Mr Thompson said the BBC faced "exciting and daunting new challenges over the next decade".

"A 10-year Charter and secure funding for the BBC will give us the right foundation on which to take on these challenges," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas