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U.K. Parliament to Review BBC's Public Mandate

Chris Patten P
BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten

The Culture, Media and Sport committee will analyze BBC funding, plans and the public broadcaster's Royal Charter, before the current one expires in December of 2016.

LONDON – The U.K. parliament has launched a review of the future of the BBC ahead of the public broadcaster's Royal charter ending in December of 2016.

The Royal charter is the constitutional basis for the BBC and sets out the public purposes of the broadcasting giant, guarantees its political independence and outlines the duties of the Trust and the executive board.

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The review launch comes less than 24 hours after BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten and Tony Hall, the director general of the U.K. public broadcaster, faced the latest grilling of BBC top executives by the British Parliament.

The Culture, Media and Sport committee will hold "an inquiry into the BBC" and is calling for submissions from the industry and public alike.

Since the last Charter renewal in 2006, the Parliamentarians have noted that the communications and media environment "has evolved significantly, with an abundance of content, platforms and services accessed by an increasing number of people. Yet the popularity of traditional television and radio services remains strong."

The Committee will consider the BBC beyond 2016, looking to address fundamental questions including the BBC's raison d'etre and the basic purpose of public service broadcasting, as well as how well the BBC performed in the current Charter period in achieving its mission and public purposes.

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The wide-ranging review will also look at the scope, scale and remit of the BBC and ask what balance should be struck in what the BBC produces in-house, commissions externally and leaves entirely to others to create.

Other lines of enquiry include how the BBC should be funded beyond 2016 and if there is a case for distributing funding for public service content more widely beyond the BBC.

The parliamentary committee is piloting a new web portal for online submissions of written evidence.

The current BBC Royal Charter will expire at the end of 2016.