Review says the BBC Trust model is flawed
An independent review commissioned by Government to look at how the BBC is governed and regulated has concluded that the current model should be replaced.
The report, which forms part of the Government’s review of the BBC’s Royal Charter, recommends that regulatory oversight of the BBC should be passed wholly to Ofcom, and the BBC should have a unitary Board made up with a majority of non-executive directors.
Currently there are three key groups that make up the system of governance and regulation of the BBC – the BBC Executive, the BBC Trust and Ofcom. The BBC Executive’s role is to run the day-to-day activities of the BBC, with the BBC Trust as the sovereign body of the BBC that has overall responsibility for the strategic direction of the BBC and acts as steward of the licence fee, holding the BBC Executive to account. Ofcom currently has a role as the regulator responsible for the wider broadcasting and telecommunications landscape.
Sir David Clementi who led the review said: “Following consultation with a wide range of interested parties, and a detailed assessment of the options, I have concluded that there should be a fundamental reform of the system of governance and regulation for the BBC.
“The BBC Trust model is flawed. It conflates governance and regulatory functions within the Trust. The BBC should have a unitary Board charged with responsibility for meeting the obligations placed on it under the Royal Charter and Agreement, and responsibility for the interests of Licence Fee payers.
“Regulatory oversight should pass wholly to Ofcom, which is already the public service regulator for the UK’s broadcasting industry and has the ability to look at the BBC in the context of the market as a whole. Ofcom would be a strong regulator to match a strong BBC.”
The report also recommends that the primary responsibility for the interests of the Licence Fee payers should lie with the BBC Board and that Ofcom should issue the BBC an ‘Operating Framework’, consistent with the revised Royal Charter and Agreement, which would set out the obligations placed on the BBC
Also, the Operating Framework should include ‘Operating Licences’ which would set out the BBC’s broadcasting content and distribution obligations, including services for the Devolved Nations,
the Charter should place on the BBC a duty to consult with the public both as consumers and as Licence Fee payers, and the BBC should have a clear ‘Broadcaster First’ system of complaints where it handles complaints in the first instance with Ofcom handling appeals on editorial issues.
Sir David has presented his report to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to feed into the ongoing BBC Charter Review process.
The final report of independent review on BBC governance and regulation can be found online here.