What will the Charter Review mean for BBC Radio?
The BBC is always under pressure for something.
Currently the British national broadcaster is facing possible changes to the way it is governed, reports Steve Ahern from London.
BBC Director General Tony Hall spoke this week about the recent review of the BBC Charter which recommended that the BBC Trust be scrapped and that the British national broadcaster should be regulated by Ofcom, the equivalent of Australia’s ACMA.
He welcomed the overall review, but said the broadcaster needs more safeguards on its independence, not more erosion.
Hall says the public wants the BBC to remain independent from government and to continue to be a ‘universal’ service, not one limited to take up what the commercial sector rejects.
He made the case for a strong BBC as the cornerstone of Britain’s creative economy, saying:
A new consensus has emerged… There has never been such collective support for the kind of BBC the country wants and needs:
A distinctive, universal BBC, informing, educating and entertaining, bringing the best to everyone;
A trusted voice in a crowded arena, accountable to the public and focused on their interests, independent of both government and market;
Bringing the country together in a national conversation and representing it to the world;
An engine of growth for our creative industries and one of the UK’s most valuable, global brands.
I believe in this version of the BBC. The leaders of all our major political parties do, and the industry does too – well, most of the time… Last month, the Lords Select Committee lent its support to a universal BBC, and found “no compelling evidence for a reduction in scale or scope”.
Then, there was the report from the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee… saying: “The BBC is an extraordinary national and global institution” and then goes on to say “But the BBC also has a role as a beacon of enlightened values of openness, freedom of thought, toleration and diversity…”
And then there’s the public, who certainly believe in a strong BBC.
But a stronger BBC may not mean a stronger radio division in the old sense of the term.
There are rumours that Lord Hall will restructure the BBC along content lines, not by output. So the ‘entertainment’ radio channels could fall under a different structure from the ‘news’ channels. Already various Controllers of television divisions have left as BBC TV begins to migrate to that kind of structure, and the rumours are that Radio will follow suit.
It is thought it is likely that divisions will be formed, such as BBC Entertain, which would take in Radio 2 and the corporation’s televised entertainment programming, plus youth station BBC3 and pop music station BBC1.
Another division, BBC Inform could include news services, and news radio stations such as Five Live.
A formal announcement of further restructuring is expected around Easter.
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Below: View of the BBC integrated newsroom in the new Broadcasting House London