Government’s White Paper on BBC future praised by industry players and Beeb boss

The director-general of the BBC has welcomed the Government’s blueprint for the corporation’s next 11 years as ‘a mandate for the strong, creative BBC the public believe in’.

Lord Hall said he believed the Royal Charter envisaged in Culture Secretary John Whittingdale’s White Paper would deliver ‘a BBC that will be good for the creative industries – and most importantly of all, for Britain’.

BBC director general Tony Hall (Adrian Dennis/PA)

BBC director-general Tony Hall (Adrian Dennis/PA)


But he raised concerns about plans for the National Audit Office to scrutinise BBC spending, warning that editorial decision-making must be explicitly excluded from its remit.

And he said the BBC had ‘an honest disagreement’ with ministers over the appointments process for the new BBC board and would continue to seek changes, insisting that it was ‘vital for the future of the BBC that its independence is fully preserved’.

The BBC said that external regulation by Ofcom was ‘the right thing to do’.

Armando Iannucci (Ian West/PA)

Armando Iannucci (Ian West/PA)


Satirist Armando Iannucci, who has been a high-profile critic of Mr Whittingdale’s proposals for change at the BBC, responded with relief to the White Paper, saying the details were ‘good to hear’, with ‘no cuts to BBC budget, no interference in schedules and majority on Board not appointed by the Government’.

Iannucci – the director behind BBC hits including The Thick of It and I’m Alan Partridge – tweeted:





TV scientist Brian Cox, who had warned against interference in the BBC, said on Twitter: “BBC Charter renewal now looks sensible, subject to reducing ministerial influence over appointments to the board.”

Professor Brian Cox

Professor Brian Cox (Matt Faber/PA)


MPs came out in support of aspects of the announcement on Twitter.






But Labour’s Stella Creasy warned:


Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Eagle accused Whittingdale of ‘ideologically-driven meddling’ as he ordered the BBC to ensure it is providing ‘distinctive content’ rather than simply competing for ratings with commercial rivals.

She said his ideas were ‘totally out of step with the licence fee payers who value and support the BBC’ and that most of his ‘wilder proposals’ had been ‘watered down, dumped or delayed’ in the final document.

But BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead – who will stay in post at the head of the new board until 2018 – praised the White Paper, saying it ‘sets good principles, strengthens the BBC’s governance and regulation and cements a financial settlement that will sustain the strong BBC that is loved and admired by the public’.


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