Government White Paper on BBC Charter 2007-2016

DCMS proposals (76 pages, PDF) for the BBC Charter for 10 years from 1 January 2007. The Government has also published a draft of the proposed Royal Charter (86 pages, PDF). The proposals are close to those in the green paper.

The draft charter makes it clear that the BBC would remain a single corporation with no external regulator of its public service broadcasting role or of its fair trading commitment insofar as it goes beyond competition law. The distinction between the BBC Trust (which would replace the BBC Governors as the supervisory board) and the BBC's executive board would only affect decision making within the BBC.

Public value would be at the heart of decisions about new or changed BBC services, with a somewhat greater role for Ofcom (which would now provide a market impact assessment on all significant service changes) and with the Secretary of State's right of veto limited to determining whether "appropriate processes" were followed. The paper assumes that there is a consensus between Ofcom and the BBC Trust as to what market impact assessment is, and points to a Work Foundation project for information about the concept of public value.

The fair trading commitment would be expanded to core BBC services and would include ex ante rules on cross-promotion. It would remain an internal rule within the BBC, set and enforced by the Trust, rather than an externally imposed regulatory control.

The paper states the licence fee is State aid and that the Government "will expect the BBC to continue to be rigorous in ensuring that its use of the licence fee complies with the EU rules on State Aid", and does not identify any allocation of that responsibility between the Trust and the executive board. See State aid law and the BBC Charter review for another view on the State aid impact of service licences.

The paper notes some enhancements of the National Audit Office's role which have been agreed with the BBC Governors, and proposes no major change to that relationship.

Update, June 2006: The DCMS has published revisions to the draft Royal Charter and Framework Agreement.

Filed under BBC, DCMS, Media, Ofcom.

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