Advisers want more say over BBC policy: General council seeks a clearly defined role

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE BBC's General Advisory Council, which last week called for Marmaduke Hussey, chairman of the BBC, to resign, has produced a policy paper designed to give it a more clearly defined role in representing the views of the public.

It says that it should meet more frequently - perhaps four times a year rather than three - and that it should be able to take up subjects of broad consumer interest, such as the way smoking is depicted on BBC programmes.

The council also wants to have a bigger impact on steering BBC policy and become a public forum affecting its longer-term strategy. It is unhappy with the brief way its views are written up within the BBC's annual report and accounts, and wants instead to be able to make its own report to the public.

The paper is being considered by an internal BBC working party and will be included in a broader policy document - due to be published this summer - about how the governors should reform and operate in future.

This is part of the corporation's contribution to the Government's Green Paper on renewing the BBC's charter.

Making the BBC more accountable has emerged as a key issue in the row over the power exercised by Mr Hussey and his deputy, Lord Barnett, but many observers believe the governors will fail to recognise the need for real change.

The council was created in 1934, at the BBC's initiative, in order to obtain 'constructive criticism and advice of representative men and women over the whole field of its activities'. The council's members are appointed by the corporation and its proceedings are private.