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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent