Former Culture Secretary calls for BBC Trust to be scrapped
The BBC Trust should be scrapped and the broadcaster should be regulated by Ofcom, former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has said.
The Labour former Cabinet minister said ministers should use the “shambles” of the row over executive pay-offs to look again at the way the BBC is governed.
He added that if MPs on a committee examining the excessive pay-offs to senior staff came down on the side of former director general Mark Thompson rather than trust chairman Lord Patten, the consequences would be “extremely serious”.
Mr Thompson’s written submission to the Public Accounts Committee described the evidence given by Lord Patten and trust member Anthony Fry during their appearance as containing “important inaccuracies” and being “fundamentally misleading”.
NEW IN : for those cold winter nights highland check dog and cat beds in stock, fleecy and washable ideal for those nights snuggling by the fire...... available in 3 colourways
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Saturday, January 25 2014
Mr Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that the row “adds to the general public view , I’m afraid, of an extremely dysfunctional organisation at the time”.
He added: “It really depends on whose conclusion the Public Accounts Committee comes down on the side of. Obviously, if they decide that they think Mark Thompson was right, that is extremely serious not just for Lord Patten but for the trust as a whole.
“If they decide Lord Patten was right then it doesn’t matter so much for the BBC because Mark Thompson is out of the scene, he’s in New York, it may have an impact on him there but I think not so much on the BBC as if he is proved right.”
Mr Bradshaw said the BBC Trust was failing to act as either an effective regulator or as a cheerleader for the broadcaster.
He said: “This does raise a deeper and more fundamental problem which some of us have been banging on about for quite a long time, that is the essential unsustainability of the current governance structure of the BBC and the fact that you have this organisation, the trust, that doesn’t really act as an effective regulator nor as an effective cheerleader because it’s expected to do both jobs in one.
“I do hope that the Government will use this shambles as another reason for looking again at the governance of the BBC when it comes to charter renewal.
“Most big organisations in this country, including most broadcasters, are subject to independent regulation and the trust isn’t independent regulation. The BBC should have nothing to fear from independent regulation, it could be regulated by Ofcom and then it could have its own board which would do the job that most boards of organisations do.
“I think that would be a much more healthy settlement. The structure as it exists now prevents the BBC from defending itself properly and being effectively managed and run, but it also means that the BBC is not properly regulated.”