BBC should only produce news, says former chairman Lord Grade

Drama and other programmes would be outsourced under radical ‘rescue’ plan

The former chairman of the BBC, Lord Grade, has claimed that the organisation is “far too big” and “virtually unmanageable” and should outsource most of its programmes, including dramas and documentaries, to the private sector.

In evidence provided to MPs, Lord Grade – one of the most powerful voices in British broadcasting – called for Channel 4 to be allowed to compete with the BBC for a share of the licence fee.

The peer told the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media & Sport that the role of Director General at the BBC had grown beyond the capabilities of one individual.

“There’s no person on earth that can do that job successfully,” he said. The Committee, which is investigating the future of the BBC, was given a paper written by Lord Grade and entitled “Wither the BBC?” accusing the corporation of having a “default territorial agenda”.

The treatise, an introduction to a book to be published next month called BBC in Crisis, was described by MPs as “revolutionary”. It calls for the organisation’s in-house production to be reduced to just news and current affairs, with all other content and production services commissioned from the private sector.

“What is the justification for the BBC continuing to run BBC in-house production any longer in areas such as drama, documentaries, light entertainment, comedy etc etc? No point at all,” he writes.

BBC4, he added, should be merged with BBC2. “Does any viewer understand the difference between [BBC]2 and [BBC]4 today? I certainly don’t.”

Lord Grade, who addressed the Committee in the company of former BBC Director General Lord Birt, told MPs that a succession of “management disasters”, including the Digital Media Initiative computer project, had illustrated the corporation’s structural problems. “They’ve made too many mistakes recently,” he said. It was essential that the BBC was reduced in size to ensure that the licence fee remained “affordable and defensible”, he argued.

“The BBC is still in that mode of: ‘We have to do everything ourselves’ and I don’t think that’s helped them at all,” he said. “I would like to see a model that follows the private sector – much more efficient.” He told MPs that Channel 4, of which he is a former chief executive, could only continue as a public service broadcaster if it was allowed to be entirely funded by the licence fee. Mr Whittingdale noted that this would mean the BBC “is going to get significantly less”, to which the former BBC chairman said: “Yes, I think some things will have to go.” Earlier, former BBC Director General Greg Dyke made an attack on Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, over his handling of the Jimmy Savile affair and the resignation of former chief executive George Entwistle. “No, I don’t think he [Lord Patten] is doing a good job,” he told Philip Davies MP, “because I don’t know where he was when the crisis happened.”

Mr Dyke appeared alongside ex-BBC chairman Gavyn Davies, who noted that the broadcaster had a problem from the use of iPlayer by those who don’t own a licence. “I think people who are using the BBC through the iPlayer should expect to pay the licence fee,” he said.

Mr Davies said BSkyB was “extremely central” in British television with around double the income of the Corporation, and there was a lack of diversity of ownership in commercial television.

“I don’t think that’s healthy for the public,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
News
David Ryall in Harry Potter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
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: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015