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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Proposed new structure for BBC governance could create the British Government Broadcasting Corporation

Release date:  16 March 2016

The Chartered Institute of Journalists is warning that plans for a new structure of governance of the BBC risk turning it into ‘The British Government Broadcasting Corporation’.

The CIoJ, the world’s oldest professional association of journalists, is advising Culture Secretary John Whittingdale to go back to the drawing board and come up with proposals that preserve the BBC’s independence from governmental and party political interference.

Institute President Mark Croucher says: “In 1926 the BBC’s first Managing Director deftly resisted Winston Churchill’s plot for the government to take over the BBC during the General Strike. The subsequent public corporation model established in 1927 has been the envy of the world.

“All political parties must recognise that an independent BBC will irritate and indeed enrage them. But our carefully developed democracy has been enhanced by BBC governance and regulation at several arms’ length from the executive and parliament.

“The current plan is putting BBC news and current affairs and everything else in the pocket of the cabinet.”

The Institute believes a recent report prepared by Sir David Clementi for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on how the BBC is governed and regulated is flawed. Clementi and the Culture secretary are in favour of a unitary board.

Mr. Whittingdale is proposing that more than half of the board will be government appointees.

Mark Croucher continued: “With content regulation being determined by Ofcom whose head is also appointed by the government we’re going to get a double vice of governmental conflict of interest.”

The Institute recommends a controlling body for the BBC that has no government appointees, that represents licence payers’ interests apolitically and impartially.

The Institute also believes content regulation should be retained within the BBC but there should be research into the possibility of an Appeal recourse for disputed complaints.


Notes to editors:

Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.