BBC Charter Renewal

The BBC has been ordered by Culture Secretary John Whittingdale to put 'distinctive content' at its heart. Mr. Whittingdale made the comment during the most recent discussions surrounding a government announced major overhaul of the BBC.


Referring to speculation that the BBC would no longer be allowed to schedule popular programmes against rival shows, the Culture Secretary explained he was “emphatically not saying the BBC should not be popular.”


The White Paper declares plans to abolish the BBC's governing trust, the creation of a new board to run its daily affairs and will see Ofcom take up the role of the corporations external regulator.


The BBC will also be tasked with providing more distinctive content, especially to audiences who are considered to be under served.


Mr. Whittingdale went on to say that, “Some of the BBC's most distinctive programmes have a very wide audience because they are so good (but) we will place a requirement to provide distinctive programmes and services at the heart of the BBC's core mission.” He continued, “Commissioning editors should ask consistently of new programming: 'Is this idea sufficiently innovative and high quality?' rather than simply 'How will it do in the ratings?'"


Other planned measures include:


A new mission statement for the BBC: "To act in the public interest, serving all audiences with impartial, high-quality, and distinctive media content and services that inform, educate and entertain."


A requirement to focus on underserved audiences, in particular those from minority backgrounds, by providing distinctive content and services.


Replacing the BBC Trust with a new unitary board to govern the corporation.


Allowing the BBC to independently appoint the majority of its board.


Allocating responsibility for editorial decisions explicitly to the Director General.


Handing regulatory powers for all BBC services to Ofcom.


The publication of salaries of all employees and freelancers who earn more than £450,000.


In her response to Mr Whittingdale's statement, Maria Eagles, Shadow Culture Secretary, said: "We know the secretary of state is extremely hostile to the BBC. He wants it diminished in size." Ms eagles went on to elaborate, "His views are totally out of step with the licence fee-payers who value and support the BBC."


The Shadow Secretary stated emphatically that she did "not agree that [Mr Whittingdale's] obsession with distinctiveness should be imported into the BBC's mission statement."


The BBC's current Royal Charter - the agreement which sets the broadcaster's rules and purpose - expires at the end of December. A public consultation into its future was launched in 2015.



MPs will debate the paper in the autumn before the draft of the new charter is signed and will come into force for the next 11 years.


From Tony Hall, BBC Director General, the White paper brought this response, "...delivers a mandate for the strong, creative BBC the public believe in. A BBC that will be good for the creative industries - and most importantly of all, for Britain.” Mr. Hall also said that, “There has been a big debate about the future of the BBC. Searching questions have been asked about its role and its place in the UK. That's right and healthy, and I welcome that debate.”



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