for diverse, democratic and accountable media
The Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU) launched its BBC Alternative White Paper in the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 15 March. The FEU's Alternative White Paper calls on the BBC to: • Renegotiate its agreement to fund free TV licences for the over-75s, which could mean a loss of 20 per cent of its budget; • Be independent of government interference, by extending the Charter period to 11 years to take it out of the political cycle; • Have a governance structure which is not filled with government appointees and includes representatives of its staff and licence fee payers; • Continue to be a universal broadcaster making a full range of popular drama and entertainment programmes; • Provide news free of bias and maintain standards of accuracy and integrity in its journalism.
BBC charter renewal is being used by the Government to diminish the broadcaster and boost its competitors, Labour has claimed. “Eviscerating" the BBC is the only thing the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Culture Secretary agree on, shadow culture secretary Maria Eagle claimed in a swipe over divisions about the EU. She accused Culture Secretary John Whittingdale of ignoring public satisfaction with the broadcaster and using the BBC charter renewal as a way of cutting its output.
The BBC has been a self-regulating organisation since its first Royal Charter in 1926. It used to be regulated by a Board of Governors, and more recently by a BBC Trust. The Governors were meant, more so than the Trust members, to be representative of the nations and regions and different interest groups in society. Now, the Clementi Report on the future of BBC Governance, published on 1 March 2016 is recommending the end of self-governance. It wants the BBC to be run on a day to day basis by what it calls a ‘unitary board’ and for the regulatory oversight to be given to the commercial media regulator, Ofcom.
In a report published yesterday,the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee says the BBC is an “extraordinary national and global institution" with a “vast amount to contribute as an international standard of excellence in public service broadcasting", but that in a fast-moving world it needs a radical overhaul of its governance arrangements.