Jeremy Hunt warns on BBC governance

Opposition culture minister says party would dismantle Trust

LONDON -- A conservative government would radically alter the BBC's governance and make sweeping changes to media-ownership legislation for local news organizations, opposition culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday.

His comments came as the BBC's governance committee, the BBC Trust, announced the "largest and most significant" review of all its services, which will look at its channels, digital webs, online operations and technology operations.

Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild meeting, the Conservative Party's Hunt -- who could be the next culture minister if his party defeat Labor at the next election -- said that the BBC's corporate governance wasn't working and that a Conservative government would dismantle the BBC Trust if elected next year.

"The regulatory structure is failing. There are a series of issues that demonstrate that corporate governance is not working at the BBC in the way that it should," Hunt told the meeting of broadcast journalists.

"It's very difficult for license fee payers to know who they should go to if the BBC does something they're not happy with."

Citing the Russell Brand obscene phone calls that caused a media and viewer furor this year, Hunt said a more independent oversight body "without the term BBC in its title" would have dealt with it better.

However, he decline to give further details of any options the Conservatives would put forward to replace the BBC Trust.

Meanwhile, the BBC Trust said it would launch a 12-week consultation to kick off a review into how the BBC's core services including BBC1 and BBC2 were working.

"These services have a key role in helping the BBC deliver its public service mission. We'll be looking at how they are performing against their service licenses and whether they are offering value for money," said BBC Trust member Diana Coyle, who will head the review.