BBC Charter Renewal

There was a long statement in the Commons yesterday on the government’s White Paper which was published yesterday on its plans to renew the Royal Charter under which the BBC operates. The fact the BBC operates in this way that is to say under a Royal Charter rather than an Act of Parliament is of course one guarantee of its independence. I am all in favour of the BBC and indeed all broadcasters being independent of the State and independent of government.   However the BBC is funded by the tax payer and just as with general taxation any taxpayer who does not pay is faced  with criminal sanctions.

The proposed new Charter is a long one for 11 years taking the BBC right up to 2027. It contains revised governance proposals and sets out what is expected of the BBC but basically the viewer will not notice many changes, if any. There will be greater transparency of what people are paid. The fact that the starting point is £450,000 tells you all you need to know about the size of the salaries involved!

Crucially the funding model will remain the same. The licence fee will remain the same and be allowed to increase in line with inflation.


IPT Fellowship

Many constituents are already employed in the media industry and with the BBC moving more departments up to media city the number of constituents engaged either directly or indirectly in the media sector and supporting businesses will continue to increase. With this in mind I have for several months been making arrangement to undertake what they call a Fellowship – in media and broadcasting – through the auspices of the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT). The Industry and Parliament Trust is a registered charity which is dedicated to promoting mutual understanding between the worlds of business, industry and commerce for the public benefit.

MP’s and peers from all parties are encouraged to spend time in different sectors to learn about business in much greater depth than is normally possible. My placements will be with various media companies from across the sector and last Tuesday I had my first briefing session with ITV. I will in due course be spending time with STV , BBC possibly C4 and a smaller independent production company. There is a commitment on the part of the Member to undertake 18 days of placements with host organisations but these are spread over a period of around one and half years so there is plenty of opportunity to fit the days in with my other commitments.

Expensive Phone Call!

I am often amazed at how at what at the time must seem to the participants to be routine everyday matters suddenly become headline news with enormous consequences. This week we have seen just such an event. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand made a telephone call and I am sure they could never have guessed at the consequences. It was in my opinion a most inappropriate phone call and I fail to understand why these two very highly paid entertainers did not realise the potential for harm. The consequences have been that two people have lost their jobs at the BBC and Jonathan Ross has been suspended without pay for three months costing him reportedly one and half million pounds. The whole affair has done nothing to change my opinion that the way the BBC operates and is funded needs a significant overhaul.

Sue and I have been out this afternoon preparing for the Christmas Wrapping Service organised by the Bury Society for Blind and Partially Sighted People. It does not seem like a year since we were involved last Christmas but time marches on and this year the service is due to start in the Millgate Centre on December 8th.