Burns Panel publishes paper on BBC's future

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Culture secretary Tessa Jowell's independent panel looking at the future of the BBC will hold its final meeting this week to discuss how the corporation should be run and regulated. The Friday meeting, the last in a series of what Jowell's department describes as "informed seminars", will discuss a paper which captures the main themes of the debate so far.

The themes include the BBC's purposes and remit, and how the corporation is funded. Three models of governance and regulation will also be debated by the independent panel. They are: reformed internal regulation, based on BBC chairman Michael Grade's 'Building Public Value' document; external regulation by either Ofcom or a newly formed 'Ofbeeb'; or a hybrid of the two, dubbed 'Inbeeb'.

On funding, the panel said it agrees "that the balance of the debate lies in favour of (retaining) the licence fee for the time being". But the paper goes to on say the licence fee "will become increasingly difficult to sustain" in the long term, thus necessitating a further detailed examination of BBC funding before the end of the next charter period.

The findings of the seminars, which have followed a major public consultation launched by Jowell in December 2003, will feed into a Green Paper - outlining the Government's thinking on the BBC's future - due to be published early next year. A more detailed White Paper will follow later in 2005.

Lord Burns

Terry Burns (pictured), chair of the independent panel, said: "We have debated a range of issues in our public seminars, and have found that there is widespread agreement that we need an appropriate system of governance and regulation for the future. During our final seminar we hope to move the debate forward."

Jowell commented: "Terry and his panel are to be commended for their tireless work in helping to define the key themes as we work towards a Green Paper. The paper the panel has published today provides an illuminating summary of the debate so far. I look forward to hearing the outcome of Friday's discussions on governance and regulation."

In a statement, the BBC's governors said they welcomed the Burns Panel paper. "We have also developed further proposals around governance and regulation and will share this thinking with the panel on Friday," said the statement.

Lovelacemedia  |  01.12.2004

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