Government announces independent review into governance at the BBC

The Government has announced an independent review of how the BBC is governed and regulated following a series of “bad mistakes” by the organisation.

Culture, media and sport Secretary John Whittingdale said the review was being launched in light of a series of scandals in recent years.

These include the broadcaster’s handling of Jimmy Savile abuse allegations, Lord McAlpine’s libel claim over false child abuse allegations and the furore over Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand’s 2008 phone call to actor Andrew Sachs.

Mr Whittingdale, who is due to speak at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge tonight, said: “Television is of huge importance to the nation – and the BBC lies at the heart of British television.

“However no-one could deny that the BBC has made some bad mistakes in the last few years.

“Savile, McAlpine, Ross-Brand, severance payments and excessive salaries have all contributed to a widespread view that the governance structure needs reform.

“So as part of the Charter Review process, I am pleased to announce that I am setting up an independent review into the governance and regulation of the BBC.”

A statement from the DCMS, said the review would form part of the ongoing review of the BBC’s Royal Charter and ensure the correct checks and balances are in place to hold the organisation to account and ensure it “delivers for licence fee payers”.

The review will be carried out by Sir David Clementi, former chairman of Virgin Money and Prudential and previously a Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.

He said: “The BBC is a world class broadcaster and requires effective governance and regulation. I look forward to conducting this review.”

Sir David has been asked to make proposals on the model of governance and regulation of the BBC; the specific mechanisms of governance and regulation; and the way in which the BBC and the bodies that govern and regulate it engage with licence fee payers and the wider industry.

A BBC Trust spokesman said it welcomed the review.

He added: ” As we have said before, the way the BBC is governed and regulated needs intelligent reform and an open public debate. We look forward to working with Sir David Clementi.”

Mr Whittingdale has already warned of cuts at the BBC, saying that the organisation should make ” the same efficiency savings as we’re asking every public body to do”.

The stance has provoked a public debate, most notably with satirist and Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci saying ministers should help promote the BBC to “capitalise financially” overseas.

The report is expected to be submitted in early 2016.

[Belfast Telegraph 16 September 2015]