BBC Charter Renewal May 2016
Thank you for contacting me regarding the BBC and the consultation on BBC Charter Review.
I believe the BBC does need reform and I accept that changes are needed to the way it is governed. However, I believe the BBC is the cornerstone of the UK's creative industries and one of our greatest cultural institutions. I was therefore very concerned by reports soon after the election that the Government intends to go to war with the BBC. The recent actions taken by the Government certainly indicate that the BBC is at real risk.
I believe the investment and scope of the BBC must be maintained and the BBC must continue to be a great universal broadcaster that continues to inform, educate and entertain - and provide something for everyone.
The Government has confirmed that the BBC will take on the cost of free TV licences for over-75s. I am concerned these changes will lead to cuts in jobs, services and quality. It is also disappointing the Government has stated that the licence fee level is 'not settled'. I believe the Government must not renege on the licence fee agreement and the licence fee should remain for the full period of the next Charter with a CPI inflation rise as promised.
Other proposals being considered by the Government include narrowing the BBC's remit to stop it from making some of its most popular shows. I believe this would be a mistake and the Government should not try to prevent the BBC from making great entertainment programmes or force the BBC to reduce its news output.
As you may know, the Clementi Review into Governance and Regulation of the BBC has recommended replacing the BBC Trust with a unitary Board with a majority of non-executive directors, half of whom would be appointed by the Government. However, recent reports suggest that the Government plans to directly appoint most members of the new body. Both the Clementi report and the public consultation make clear that the independence of the BBC must be at the heart of its future. I therefore believe that the new unitary board must be underpinned by independent appointment processes, including for its Chair.
I believe the Government's actions are an assault on the principle of public service broadcasting. I am also concerned the Government wants to shorten the Charter period to exert more political influence. This must be fought all the way because it is crucial the BBC remains independent of Government. I believe the Government's attempts to cut down the BBC are not what the public wants, nor are they in the best interests of the country as they would jeopardise the future success of the UK creative industries and the wider economy.
The Government says it will take the consultation responses into account and bring forward proposals for BBC Charter Review in a White Paper this May. I welcome the fact that the Government is finally going to publish its White Paper and I await its proposals for the next stage of Charter Review. I can assure you I will oppose any attempts by the Government to dismantle or downgrade the BBC.
Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I will continue to do all I can to save the BBC.