BBC publishes conclusions of governance review

The BBC Trust and BBC Executive have published the conclusions of their joint review of BBC governance, and announced a series of changes to the working relationship between the Trust and Executive.

The review was launched in September 2013 following a year of difficult events at the BBC which highlighted a need to clarify roles and responsibilities and improve the working culture between the two parts of the Corporation.

The key conclusion of the review is that, while much of the current governance system works well, there is confusion about who is responsible for what in certain key operational areas and this has undermined confidence in the governance and operation of the BBC. As a result the BBC and the Trust have committed to a series of actions, approved by the Trustees and the Executive Board, which will come into effect from 1 April 2014.

These actions will mean there will be greater clarity to people inside and outside the BBC that the Executive Board is responsible for making decisions about its operations and the BBC Trust is responsible for assessing its performance.

The BBC is also announcing today that Sir Howard Stringer, former Chairman and CEO of Sony Corporation will be joining the BBC Executive Board as a Non-Executive Director from 1 January 2014. Sir Howard was previously President of the CBS network and will bring his extensive broadcasting and commercial experience to this role.

The actions announced today include:

  • Clearer roles and responsibilities – there will be greater separation between the Trust and Executive, with the Trust clearly responsible for setting the overall strategic framework for the BBC and the Executive responsible for delivering within this. The Trust will not involve itself in operational decision making. This will require a change in the working culture on both sides, with more agreement on where information should to be shared and where operational responsibilities lie. The Trust will also publish the objectives and priorities that it sets for the BBC Executive.
  • New three-stage performance reporting – to ensure better monitoring of how specific BBC projects are progressing and ensure that issues are identified and dealt with early, the Executive will report to the Trust more comprehensively throughout the year. There will be new quarterly business updates from the Executive to the Trust, formal reviews by the Trust of individual projects, and – if necessary – an ‘Exceptional Business Report’ from the Executive to the Trust if a project is at serious risk.
  • Increase in number and role of Non-Executive Directors – the Executive will increase the number of Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) on its board from four to six, and their role to provide external expertise and challenge will be strengthened, including adopting a more prominent public-facing role and joining the Director-General to give evidence before Parliamentary Committees. This complements the work already undertaken by the Director-General to radically reform Executive decision making, removing unnecessary boards and committees. The announcement today of Sir Howard Stringer as a Non-Executive Director is the first in the series of new non-exec appointments which will continue in the new year.
  • Improving transparency – a series of meetings between the Trust and Executive will be filmed and broadcast via the Trust website. It is expected that these will initially include discussions on the conclusions of the Trust’s reviews of BBC services, and end of year performance discussions. The Trust will expand its successful programme of public consultation and audience engagement, and ask licence fee payers to help set the priorities for the BBC each year, which will then be published.

BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten said: "People don’t just expect the BBC to produce great programmes, they want it to be run well. While much has gone well in the past, the last 15 months have seen a number of significant failures. As a result, Tony Hall and I have agreed some very sensible changes to how the relationship between the Trust and Executive works, so we are clearer about who does what, and we are accountable and transparent. It means the BBC can get on with the job of running the BBC, and the Trust can rightly focus on holding the Executive to account on behalf of licence fee payers."

BBC Director-General Tony Hall said: "This is an important first step in making the BBC simpler and better run. And, I'm delighted that Sir Howard Stringer will be joining as a Non-Executive Director."

The report can be downloaded from the BBC website.

DTG Staff  |  11.12.2013

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