BBC's Future Should Be Decided by Public, Not Politicians, Chair Says

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BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead

Rona Fairhead acknowledges the need for change, writing that "the status quo is not an option."

Rona Fairhead, the chair of the BBC Trust, in a newspaper editorial has called on politicians to let the public decide the future of the British public broadcaster.

The trust is the governing body of the BBC and designed to keep an eye on its executives.

Amid a government push to review the BBC's "scale and scope," Fairhead wrote in The Independent that the broadcaster's future should "be decided by evidence and not by prejudice and not by vested interest."

She also called out politicians for meddling in the BBC's affairs, highlighting "a growing tendency in recent years for select committees to question BBC executives about detailed editorial decisions."

The BBC Trust’s future has also been questioned amid a review of the BBC's governance setup. Fairhead acknowledged that, writing: "The public see a need for independent scrutiny and regulation, but they want this done by a separate body representing license fee payers, not by politicians."

The government recently published a so-called green paper about the BBC's future. Other TV networks operators have also been pushing for a smaller BBC focused on more narrow tasks.

Fairhead wrote that the BBC was facing "ever-tighter funding constraints" and "arguably the greatest external challenges in its lifetime." She said that "the status quo is not an option," but emphasized that changes "should happen through a proper debate where the public’s voice is heard loud and clear."

She concluded: "The BBC’s future is simply too important to be settled behind closed doors."