BBC invites rivals to comment on its performance

The BBC will invite broadcasting rivals to comment on its performance and react to changes in areas of "market sensitivity", Sir Michael Lyons said today.

The outgoing chairman of the BBC Trust also revealed the corporation will publish a business plan and budget every year and cut online spending by 25%.

Writing in the Guardian, he said the plans would help create a more "distinctive" BBC within the "significantly tighter" financial constraints of a licence fee settlement which sees the fee frozen at its current level until 2016-17.

According to Sir Michael, who will unveil the BBC's Strategy Review later today, the vision is for a "more open and collaborative" BBC.

He wrote: "Above all else, the new strategy will lead to a more distinctive BBC, which focuses more sharply on content that can't be found elsewhere, based around clear editorial priorities, while balancing the need to continue to serve all audiences.

"This focus on distinctiveness won't just be a win for audiences. It will also help deliver greater certainty for other broadcasters who won't feel the BBC is encroaching unduly into their territory."

The annual business plan and budget will enable everyone to see the BBC's investments and programming spend in advance, Sir Michael said.

BBC management will meanwhile be expected to "actively seek industry reactions" to initiatives, which will run alongside a formal programme to canvas opinion about how the BBC has performed.

In addition, the BBC will not only reduce online spending but will also hold biannual briefings to share strategic plans and consult the industry on future initiatives.

"The trust is clear that the BBC's central purpose is to create and foster a trusted public space for informed debate through the creation of outstanding programmes and services," Sir Michael wrote. "That public space might otherwise be under threat in a world where media market powers seems to be concentrating in fewer hands at the same time as audiences become more fragmented.

"The strategy we publish today aims to ensure the BBC continues to fulfil that central purpose. In doing so it will help ensure that the paradox of the external perception of the BBC and the reality of its close relationship with its audiences remains just that, a paradox."

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