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State aid law and the BBC Charter review

This page provides material relating to Nicholas Francis' November 2005 article "State aid law and the BBC Charter review: contestable funding by the back door" (PDF).

Summary of the article

In March 2005 the Government published a Green Paper on the renewal of the BBC's Royal Charter. The Green Paper proposes the creation of a new body, provisionally called the BBC Trust. The BBC Trust would be accountable for the use of licence fee income, and would hold the BBC to account for service delivery.

Were the Green Paper's proposals to be taken forward, there could be a significant change in the way that European Community law constrains the activities and funding of the BBC. This change could spell the end of the BBC as we know it.

Specifically, to secure continued compliance with State aid rules, the proposed governance model could make it necessary for BBC editors and programme-makers to become more like contractors, with all important decisions on service delivery resting with the BBC Trust. It may also be necessary for the BBC Trust to consider engaging third parties, such as Sky, to deliver some services funded by the licence fee.

This conclusion holds despite the fact that European Community law has long recognised that decisions about media regulation and public service broadcasting should not be taken in Brussels — a form of subsidiarity that was enshrined in a protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam.

BBC State aid decisions

The web page State aid law and the BBC provides links to case summaries, statute and other documents.

Direct access to European Commission decisions:

BBC Charter review documents

Green paper

Select committee reports

Green paper responses

Reports of the independent panel (Burns panel)

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Last changed by Franck at 6:15 AM on Thursday 22 March 2007.

Reference for this page:
Reckon Open "State aid law and the BBC Charter review" 2007-03-22T06:15:28