Today we published our White Paper ‘A BBC for the future: A Broadcaster of Distinction". You will be able to find a copy of it here: gov.uk/government/publications/a-bbc-for-the-future-a-broadcaster-of-distinction
It is the result of a thorough period of consultation, including two specially-commissioned independent reviews, a public opinion study, several roundtable events with industry representatives and a public consultation that attracted the second highest number of responses ever to a government consultation. We have taken close account of all the findings in drawing up our proposals.
The BBC is one of this nation's most treasured institutions that continues to command a central role in the lives of so many people here in the UK and overseas. The new Royal Charter will put in place the right supporting framework to strengthen the BBC so that it continues to thrive in a fast-changing media landscape and goes on delivering the best possible for service for licence fee payers. It will:
· Overhaul how the BBC is governed, make it more accountable to the licence fee payer and strengthen its independence. A new, strong unitary board for the BBC will be set up. In contrast to the previous BBC Governors and the current BBC Trust, the BBC will be responsible for appointing at least half of the board members. There will be a much clearer separation of governance and editorial, and the charter will last 11 years to take charter renewal out of the political cycle with a mid-term review. Ofcom, which has a proven track record as an independent media regulator will provide strong external regulation to ensure that the BBC is delivering its purposes and acting fairly.
· Ensure the BBC focuses on high quality, distinctive content that serves all communities who make up our common national identity. The need for distinctiveness will be at the heart of the BBC's overall core mission of informing, educating and entertaining. We expect to see more ambitious programming across TV and radio, and will support the Director General in his aim to create a BBC that is 'more distinctive than ever - and clearly distinguishable from the market'. This does not mean that the BBC should not also be popular - some of its most distinctive programmes like Sherlock, Strictly Come Dancing and the Jeremy Vine Show enjoy wide audiences because they are so good.
· Embed the core principle of impartiality in its overall mission. This is to ensure the BBC remains the most trusted provider of high quality news in the UK and abroad.
· Support the creative industries. BBC commissioning will move to full competition with the existing in-house guarantee removed for all BBC content except news - allowing the independent production sectors to bid for an additional hundreds of millions of pounds of production. The BBC will also support and invigorate local democracy through a new partnership with local news providers. In addition, a new small contestable public service content fund will allow other broadcasters and producers to make more public service content in areas that are currently underserved such as programmes for children and for black and minority ethnic audiences.
· Keep the BBC - and Britain - standing tall on the world stage. We will protect funding for the World Service, arguably the BBC's most unique and distinctive service, and give it an additional £85m annually so it can represent the UK and its values around the globe.
· Increase transparency and value for money. The BBC receives £3.7 billion from the licence fee and it is essential that this is spent wisely. To help ensure this, the National Audit Office will become the BBC's financial auditor. The board will also be required to ensure that the BBC is transparent and efficient in its spending with those enjoying remuneration packages greater than £450,000 being identified in broad bands.
· Support the BBC with a modern, sustainable and fair system of funding. The licence fee remains the most appropriate funding model for the next Charter period and will rise in line with inflation to 2021-22 at which point there will be a new settlement. There will be pilots of a more flexible payment system to help those on lower incomes and the investigation of licence fee evasion will be made more effective and fair. The BBC will also explore whether additional revenue could be raised at home and abroad from extra subscription services sitting alongside the core universal fee.
The BBC is a trusted institution that is admired across the globe. Our proposals are intended to ensure that it continues to thrive, providing high quality distinctive programmes, delivering value for money and acting as an engine for growth and creativity in every part of the UK.