Grade's BBC reforms 'do not go far enough'

A new regulator should be set up to oversee the BBC, an independent panel has advised the Secretary of State for Culture, Tessa Jowell.

A new regulator should be set up to oversee the BBC, an independent panel has advised the Secretary of State for Culture, Tessa Jowell.

The panel, led by Lord Burns, which has been advising Ms Jowell on her review of the BBC's charter, published recommendations yesterday, proposing the establishment of a Public Service Broadcasting Commission, nicknamed "Ofbeeb", to ensure that licence-fee payers' money is spent in the public interest.

The panel rejected the argument of the BBC chairman, Michael Grade, that the overhaul of the governance system which he has already started to put into place will answer criticisms that the board cannot act as both cheerleader and regulator of the broadcaster.

In a letter to the Culture Secretary accompanying the panel's recommendations, Lord Burns said that Mr Grade's reforms "do not go far enough". "The dual role of the governors as both critical friend of management and defenders of the BBC on one hand, and providing public interest oversight of the licence-fee money on the other, is maintained," Lord Burns said.

Instead, the panel proposed a new independent body made up of a small number of non-executive commissioners appointed by the Government. The BBC's board of governors would continue to exist and would remain responsible for drawing up detailed financial plans and handling complaints, but would be freer to "promote the success" of the BBC. The new Ofbeeb would recommend the level at which the licence fee should be set and monitor the way in which it was spent.

It could also oversee the "top-slicing" of money from the licence fee to fund the public service broadcasting remits of other broadcasters.

Lord Burns's panel argued that the new regulator would ensure greater independence for the BBC, by taking over responsibility for approving and overseeing new channels and services from the Government.

The new regulator would also hear complaints appeals, leaving the Government freer to complain about the BBC and avoiding a repeat of the quarrel that led to the Hutton report.

Last week Mr Grade admitted that there had been a blurring of roles between governors and management, but said that by implementing the reforms set out in the BBC's charter review submission, Building Public Value, the board had achieved "clarity" that its job was to defend the interests of licence-fee payers. Reforms include moving governors to a separate location from management and being staffed by a separate governance unit, and greater transparency by publishing minutes of meetings and advice and research.

The BBC said that Lord Burns's panel had done its job with "intelligence and rigour".

The shadow Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, welcomed the recommendation that the BBC should be subject to external regulation, but the Liberal Democrats' media spokesman, Don Foster, called instead for a regulator to oversee all public service broadcasters.

Suggested Topics
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

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...

Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

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
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
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
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
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago