BBC Regulator Responds to U.K. Plans to Review "Size and Scope" of Public Broadcaster

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The BBC Trust has called for parliamentary approval of any future funding changes.

In the wake of the British government’s “green paper” into the future of the BBC, published last week, that asserted that the “size and scope” of the public broadcaster would be closely reviewed, the BBC’s own regulatory body has issued its first official response.

The BBC Trust on Wednesday reiterated its call for the BBC to remain a “universal and independent broadcaster” and called for “clear boundaries” regarding the government’s involvement.

It argued that the royal charter — the contract outlining the BBC's funding arrangements — should have its time frame extended from 10 years to 11 years to “provide more time between fixed date general elections and the next charter.”

In a more direct reaction to the recent changes to the BBC’s finances, the Trust also requested that there be a “public process of consultation” between the government and the regulator as part of future funding negotiations as well as “parliamentary approval” for any changes.

Rona Fairhead, the BBC Trust’s chair, had previously stated that she “didn’t endorse” the process that saw the government earlier this month decide to offload the cost of free license fees for those over 75 — expected to reach $1.2 billion by the time it comes into place — to the BBC.

“The Trust has a specific duty to represent the interests of license-fee payers,” she wrote. “We are disappointed that they have not been given any say in the major decisions about the BBC’s future funding.”