21/04/2016 House of Lords


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it your Lordships without amendment. My Lord's. I am delighted to be


opening this debate on the report BBC Charter Review. Reeth not


revolution, from the Select Committee on communications which I


have the honour to chair. The only interest I must declare is that my


son Will Best is the presenter o after BBC children's programme on


CBBC. I am grateful to my fellow committee


members for their input into this report. They represent different


perspectives within your Lordship's house and I think it is significant


so much unanimity was achieved for our conclusions and recommendations,


our thanks go to our clerk man Murphy, policy analyst and our


specialist adviser, and to all those who made submissions to the


committee, particularly the 43 witnesses who presented oral


evidence. As a trailer for the debate today, Baroness


Bonham-Carter's lunch break session on 10th March attracted 20 speakers


with contributions limited to one minute, today, with even more


speakers, but a sensible timetable I hope we can do more justice to a


subject which affects virtually every single man, woman and child in


the United Kingdom. I thank in advance all those who will be


speaking, in this debate. The Secretary of State has told us


our, told our committee that Government, rather than responding


separately to our report, will take it into account, in preparing the


White Paper on renewal of the BBC's Charter, we now know that the White


Paper will be published in late May. This mean, my Lord's, that our


debate is well timed to feed into the final stages of the White


Paper's content, but once that White Paper has been released it will be


important for this House to be given an opportunity to consider it fully.


Could I ask the noble Baroness the minister, if she might reassure


understand that time will be allocated on the floor of the House,


to debate this proposals which will be set out in this important White


Paper? My Lord's t title of the report on BBC charter renewal, foi


which are indebted to our committee member the noble Lord, Lord heart,


sums up the position we have taken. We put our faith in a BBC which


respects and appreciates its founding principle, established by


the first Director General Lord Reith, and we rejected calls for


radical fundamental change in the underlying purpose of the BBC, or


its scale or scope. Speaking personally, I was aware at the


outset of our inquiry, of a lot of background noise about the


possibilities of dramatic change for the BBC. Of course, there had been


the Jimmy Savile scandal, criticisms of salaries for executives,


accusations of political bias and so on, but as the evidence rolled in,


it became clear to me that mostly the fuss, the call for the BBC to be


cut down to size, opened up to commercial competition and the rest,


was coming from the Westminster village not from the world outside,


broadly we discovered that the public at large were strongly in


favour of their BBC, and would be gratefully opposed to radical


change. My Lord's, we recognise that with a limited timescale we couldn't


cover every aspect of the BBC's future so we deliberately excluded


the topic of governance of the corporation not least because they


were considered by our sister committee, in the other place, and


because in September last year the Government announced that Sir David


Clementy would carry out a review. In the event I do not think the


committee would have any disagreement with the Select


Committee's views or the recommendations of Sir David on the


creation a new unitary board for the BBC, with the abolition of the BBC


Trust, and regulation by Ofcom. The areas we did tackle, in our eight


month inquiry, covered first the underlying purpose of the BBC,


second the BBC's scale and scope, third, the process for setting the


license fee, and finally, the timing of the charity, for how many years


should it run before renewal. In terms of the BBC's purpose, the


charter states that the BBC's main objective is the promotion of


certain public purposes, we decided to examine the six official public


purpose, in some depth, but as we ventured further into the detail of


these, it became increasingly apparent as was voiced most


forcefully by the noble Earl, Lord Aaron that the purpose's framework


come pricing a mission statement, six public purpose, purpose remit,


purpose priority, and very detailed service licenses, was far too


complex. When the director general came before the committee, we were


shown the huge stack of forms and submissions, the BBC must complete


to fulfil these multiple requirement, all this complexity we


concluded makes practical assessment of the BBC's performance more


difficult. We recommended a much simpler and transparent approach. We


liked the distillation of the BBC's objectives the as set out by Lord


Reith to inform, educate and entertain. And we recommend than the


status of these Reethian principles should be reaffirmed at the BBC's


overarching mission. We recommended scrapping the current six public


purposes and felt instead the BBC should adopt the four general public


service broadcaster purposes which apply to all PSP broadcaster, to


ITV, champion four, Channel 5 as well as the BBC but with the BBC


setting the gold standard. Its special status and funding through a


universal license fee gives the BBC, we maintained, unique only


investigations to its audience, it should reflect the different


opinion, lifestyles, beliefs and values, of the UK's nations,


regions, and diverse communities. Indeed we dared to suggest a fourth


dimen should be the Reethian mission, so this might become to


inform, educate, entertain and reflect, dimension. We went on the


propose the abolition of the purpose priorities the and recommended a


full review of the services licenses, with a view to these being


simplified and strengthened. Defining clearly what is expected of


each service, while still encouraging creativity, we were not


letting the BBC off the hook. We felt it should be firmly held to


account, for any noncompliance with the service license, and these


should be reviewed more frequently than the current review held every


five years. To assist this process, we were clear that the independent


regulator should be provided with a comprehensive account of the BBC's


spending by genre, for children's programme, new, drama, current


affairs, etc, this information was made available to the committee, but


because of its commercial sensitivity could not be published


more widely. In looking at this, in other evidence weeks pressed some


concern at the downward trend in the BBC's investment in current affair,


spurred on by the noble Baroness, we understood line the importance the


BBC continuing to fund adequately it output at the leader of in the field


of children's programmes. We noted with concern a decrease in spending


on arts, and we emphasised the important role the BBC in


stimulating creativity in cultural exercise, particularly in the field


of music and drama, and through training, and developing talent. We


noted the criticism that the BBC was too London-centric and we commended


the steps taken to address this by moving production to other city, we


were impressed by the impact of the BBC's investment in Sam forked's'dia


city, which we visited -- Salford. We heard from a number of witness,


particularly a panel of young people, that the BBC did not


sufficiently reflect their lives or the lives of those with disabilities


or those within BA MA communities, we noticed the BBC recognised its


deficiencies an we expect to see marked improvement. We heard


concerns about decline across broads canning in religious programmes


which the Bishop of Chelmsford made today. We say they should may Tain


the quality an content of out put. Noble Lords will not be surprised to


know we welcomed Government funding for it will World Service an we


endorse the crucial role the BBC plays in the UK's culture influence,


and soft power on the world stage. Turning to our second area of


interest, the BBC scale and scope, it is true that the BBC has already


had to cut back and find significant savings. We noted in today's global


economy, the BBC is really quite small, compared in particular to


American players such as Amazon and Netflix. We heard no convincing case


for a significant reduction in the scale or scope of the BBC. Nor did


we accept arguments that the BBC should be restricted to remedying


gaps, for which the commercial market does not provide. We were


clear that its out put should bring benefits to all license fee payer


and don't to be a universal broadcaster. More over in the


changing world of the digital age, we recognise that the BBC had an


important role as an non-commercial contributors to development


innovative technologies like the iPlayer, but also to delivering its


content online. When we came to our third theme, with process for


setting the level of the license fee, strong views were expressed to


us about the deal struck behind closed doors, in July 2015. Most of


the evidence was highly critical of the Government's proposal and the


BBC's acceptance that the cost of funding free television licenses for


the over-75s, should come out of cuts to other spending by the BBC.


We recommended instead, that in future the process should be out in


the open with widespread consultation before any such deals


are done. We spelled out a detailed process, for setting the license


fee, or indeed a household Levy if that was introduced.


The independent regulator would make an evidence based recommendation to


the secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, the Secretary of


State would have an op obligation to do this or publish the reasons for


not doing so, the relay for would be allowed to submit an amended


recommendation but not a third one, the Secretary of State would have


the final say, and as now, Parliament would be asked to approve


a statutory instrument. Finally on the time, of the Charter


Review process, we recommended a decoupling from the five yearly


general election cycle. The present timings could lead to overhasty


decision making soon after an election, we also noted that the


impartiality and independence of the BBC could be compromised by a shore


charter period. There would be a Sword of Damocles hanging over the


BBC, with an ever present threat of an imminent new charter. More over


over we recognise the considerable financial management burden of more


frequent Charter Review, we were persuaded therefore, that the


charter period should be no shorter than the current ten years. Which


provides the BBC, and the wider creative industries that depend upon


the BBC, with the necessary stability for longer term planning.


But to avoid coinciding with the cycle of general election, we


recommended the next charter should be for 11 years, with a ten year


period thereafter. My Lord's, we did not shirk from recommending an


enhanced framework of accountability for the BBC and I think it sits well


with the recommendations from the review and the DCMS committee for


regulation. We were unanimously opposed to


diminution of the BBC. We will want transparency in the setting of


licence fee and one an 11 year Charter period next time. Lighting


criticism for these some aspects of the BBC behaviour in the past, I


will report was overwhelmingly supportive and appreciative of the


BBC. It is indeed a national treasure, an institution from which


all of us gain so much, and can rightly feel a genuine sense of


national pride. I beg to move. The question is that the motion be


agreed to. Milos, firstly I congratulate the honourable ember


Lord Best and indeed the committee on this report, and I can catch the


noble Lord on the leadership of the communications committee and the way


he is just introduced his report and I must say I found myself in


agreement with virtually everything that he said. It is an important


report, and I hope that the government will follow its


proposals. I particularly in doors what the committee has said on the


principles and guidance of Lord Rees, which is clear and above all,


offensive, that the aim of the BBC should be to inform, educate and


entertain, and even reflect, which has been added to. Each is


important. I have always been most supportive of the aim to inform,


meaning that the BBC should provide the best possible objective news


coverage. A duty which to my mind and in spite of all the sniping, I


think they fulfil excellently. I think the pain also to entertain


must be recognised, there should be no question of that been jettisoned,


so that the commercial sector can fill the gap. We all know what the


result of the next stage of that would be, it would be an assault on


the licence fee, on the basis that the BBC was not reaching the whole


of the nation. My Lords, the report begins by going back to 1927, the


formation of the BBC. But there is actually a staple for that. In 1925,


an all-party broadcasting committee set up by the government proposed


that and I quote eight public corporation should be set up to act


as a trustee for the national interest in broadcasting. And added,


that the corporation should be set up by statute. Ministers didn't like


the idea of them not being in the drivers, didn't like the idea of


being statute, because that meant putting things do both houses, and


they said it would become a preacher of Parliament, to quote their


phrase. So they brought forward the proposal that it should be under a


Royal Charter, and thus it became a creature of government. The Royal


Charter gave the government the ability to evade Parliament, and the


powerful minister to do what they like. That is what the water other


means, it the power to the executive, and that is the position


that we basically have today, the government may make fundamental


changes, but without the inconvenience of getting


Parliamentary approval. And how do they defend this indefensible


position? They say as my noble friend said only on Tuesday, and I


quote, for nearly 90 years, a Royal Charter has been the constitutional


basis of the BBC underlying the independence of the BBC from


political interference. I make absolutely no criticism of my noble


friend who is one of our very best ministers, and I underlined that,


but this is the consistent line of the Department of culture and has


been for the last decade and probably more, even when they say


they are protecting the BBC from political interference, that really


is the greatest nonsense. The political interference comes not


from Parliament, it comes from government. The worst political


interference is the interference of government ministers, and so it has


been over the last few decades. My Lords, I wasn't... It wasn't


Parliament who handed over to the BBC a ?600 million bill for free


television for the 07 divides. It was the government. -- over seven


divides. The government is notorious for interfering politically. Unless


one understand and accept that then I don't think we'll make a great


amount of progress. Let us recognise that quite irrespective of party all


government and prime ministers have their views. I remember the noble


Lady Thatcher, she made no effort to disguise her scepticism. At the


dinner of the government, I remember her saying that if she was ever


detected to say selling nice about the BBC, Dennis soon be persuaded


her out of it. It was just the occasion! Following the last


election, all kinds of threatening noises time from number ten that now


was the time to take on the BBC. And of course, suspicion and antipathy


BBC reporting is not confined to one party. Howard Wilson was not


renowned as a great supporter of the independence of the British board


operation, and even more up-to-date, nor was Tony Blair and Alistair


Campbell. There were beside themselves with rage about the


corporation's coverage of the Iraq war. So, the last charter in review


in 2005, a number of us were on that committee, which looked at the


charter then, they invented the BBC trust, and they deliberately at the


top of the BBC divided responsibility. So, when the GC MS


say they do that the charter has and I quote served us so well for 90


years, I think we are entitled to save just who you kidding? -- the


DCMS. In 1995I was chairman of the committee looking at the renewal of


the BBC, the BBC trust, dividing at the top of the corporation. We


rejected the proposal! That of course had not the slightest impact


on the decision whatsoever. The government, using their charter


powers, imposed it, and now ten years later, can one see what is


happening? What is happening now? It is that it is going to be abolished


at as a bold step by the new government. Goodness knows what the


cost to the taxpayer is of this fruitless adventure, and this is the


direct product of the Royal Charter that has served us so well. My


Lords, the only sensible question to be asked now is what we can do about


it, and it seems to me that there are two possible courses. You could


turn the BBC into a statutory corporation like Channel 4. That


actually has very substantial attractions. It means with Channel


4, for example, fundamental twinges, would have to be approved by


parliament. It means that if you wanted to privatise Channel 4 and


there are rumours of that kind, you have two introduce primary


legislation through both houses of both Parliament. Now I am not a whip


but I wouldn't give too many chances of that surviving all that. It does


mean that if the government had the slightest sense, they wouldn't


attempt such action, so it is a great check upon the power of


governments to act. That is one course. The alternative is to make


the charter changes subject to approval by both Houses of


parliament, in this way, the BBC trust proposal would have had to


come to Parliament and would have had to approach be approved by both


houses. That is an alternative, less elaborate perhaps way of doing it,


and my noble friend Lord Lester, the noble Lord Lord Lester, he is my


friend as well, I will allow him to set that out. The point is the


charter as a noun stands means either fundamental reform or total


abolition. It is utterly undemocratic, makes a nonsense of


parliamentary sovereignty, and hands all power to ministers, and I will


would not have thought that anyone in that -- in this country really


wants. My Lords I will not try to cover the whole of the BBC, but in


conclusion that Lambie just to say this. I am passionately in favour of


an independent BBC, free from government interference will stop a


BBC with a place in the world, and a strong BBC World Service. A BBC


where news reporting is put high, and reporting skills of


correspondence are properly valued. A BBC with a licence fee, and not


some subscription model. A BBC which is subject to check but not the


check of the BBC trust, particularly when we have a perfectly good


regulator in Ofcom. And of course above all, perhaps, a BBC where the


director-general and an independent board to make the decisions


regarding corporation inside the budget that they have and are given.


My Lords, what I do not want is a board for the BBC to be set up and


to include and the consisting of government placements of one kind or


another. But I do not want fully BBC. -- that I do not want for the


BBC. What I think we should have is five-year reviews, also, which would


mean that the BBC is constantly under threat of review and the


threat of change. -- I do not want five-year reviews. Government's


involvement with therefore becomes greater rather than less, and that


is not what the public in this country what you want. My hope is


the government will recognise the importance of the BBC and its


national and its international reputation, and my hope is that the


government see to strengthen the BBC not to weaken it, and my hope is


also that the government would follow the advice of this excellent


report from the Communications committee, and implement their


proposals within it. My Lords, I too welcome this opportunity of this


debate, like Lord Fowler, and I'm grateful to Lord Best of committee


for their sterling work. It is not the first time I have followed a


speech from Lord Fowler on this topic and climate of agreeing with


all of his words. Having shed the joint scrutiny committee from the


2003 communications Beale, I'm keenly aware of the complexities of


any discussion on this issue. I would like to declare an interest. I


am chairing an ongoing enquiry into the future of Public Service


Broadcasting generally, not just the BBC, and we intend to report in


June. This committee bug report we are debating today is extremely


helpful. I was forced -- it was somewhat narrower than the debate


deserves that this rather late stage in the process. I welcome its focus


on public purpose, the support for a far more transparent purpose of


setting up the license bill, and its positions of emotion of the BBC


being any form of market failure broadcaster. I strongly support the


conclusion that there is no need no justification for contestable


funding, let alone further top slicing of the BBC's resources for


other purposes. The reports remit did not allow it to address the


issues of governance, and funding more generally. It suggested


scrapping a good deal of the framework without putting in place


anything substantive beyond supporting Ofcom's definition of


PSP. For me, the crucial issue that anyone seriously interested in the


democracy is to focus on the overriding importance of the


corporation independence. The future cannot be business as


usual, the need is to restore faith in the process and to do so the


Government Mr Mitchell at its support for meaningful independence


in its approach to appointments. As we are currently seeing, governments


of all persuasions can and do use the prospect of charge review and


its associated funding decisions to put pressure on the BBC. For a


democracy such as ours I believe this to be a thoroughly unhealthy


state of affairs, and surely, my Lords, after almost a century of


extraordinary access the time has come for the BBC to be constituted


on a more secure and permanent basis. I will therefore be avidly


supporting Lord Lester in arguing in favour of replacing the present


Charter system by placing the BBC on a statutory footing, if necessary


through the new act of Parliament. The recent review of the BBC's


governance and legislation was right to highlight the problems BBC Trust


has experienced since it replaced the governors as the corporation's


sovereign body. As Sir David noticed the trust has completed governance


with regulation and as a result as often been hard to tell who has been


in charge, the executive or the trust. I'm sure I was not the only


Member of the House who was disappointed to read Sir David's


suggestion that government could appoint six out of the 13 unitary


board members. It is even more disturbing to hear the Conservative


Secretary of State to suggest it is perfectly that it for the Government


to appoint a significant majority of board members. Given that the green


paper claims, and I quote: the independence of the BBC is


absolutely central to its mission, then surely any proposal to increase


government influence of what is intended to be a powerful and


influential body, suggests precisely the opposite. At the very least, the


process should resemble that of Channel 4, nine of who is 13 board


members, I am deputy chairman, nine of who is Boardman Lambert are


appointed by Ofcom, free of any perceptible government influence.


I'd like to see a majority of board members selected through a more


democratic and imaginative process involving diverse experience from


across the country. My Lords, we should all be conscious of a growing


disquiet and even an anger over the prospect of a Whittingdale


broadcasting Corporation. I prefer, noble Lords to the speech given by


the shadow secretary for DC MS on Tuesday of this week in which she


excoriated the government for what appeared to be its bullying of the


corporation during this current charter reviewing process. For


example by floating proposals that would involve the corporation


selling its stake in UK TV's burqa of channels stripping BBC worldwide


of a third of its profits command also draw the attention of the House


to the person who may well be this country's most trusted public


figure, Sir David Attenborough, that as he put it the government need to


put themselves at arm's-length from the BBC in order to protect its


independence. My Lords, the Government has an opportunity to


demonstrate its support for the BBC through its deeds rather than its


words. Providing the corporation with the security and scale it


requires to continue in its role as the fundamental cornerstone for


public service information landscape as well as the vital engine room of


the UK's ever more successful creative industries. Yes, the BBC


needs to enter into new partnerships but they should not be imposed


through top slicing, or forcing it to become more distinctive when it's


obvious this is simply another way of saying that it should retreat


from popular formats. My Lords, for almost 20 years I had the pleasure


of sitting on the board of Anglia television. As such, I witnessed at


first hand the manner in which ill considered legislation, in this case


the 1990 broadcasting act, led to significant and holy ancestry job


losses, the evisceration of an excellent regionally -based training


structure and general decline in regional pride and identity, and


most regrettable of all, the erosion of democratic accountability. My


Lords, you only have to consider the dramatically reduced level of


visibility of any backbench MP as against the situation 30 years ago,


a time when every MP, along with other significant local political


figures, could expect to get their views aired across their regions and


to their local constituents on at least a quarterly basis. That's what


I'm referring to when I refer to ill thought through legislation creating


a damaging loss of democratic accountability. I'm pleased,


however, my Lords, to report not every senior member of the


government shares a lingering antipathy towards the government.


Here is what the Chancellor had to say on Radio 4 just two days ago.


Britain is a great country, it's the world's fifth-largest economy with


the world's best Armed Forces, best health service and best broadcaster.


We are the first in the world for soft power thanks to our language,


culture and creativity. Unless I'm very much mistaken, my Lords, I


don't think Mr Gove was referring to Sky, but who knows? We have been


assured that the White Paper on the future of the BBC will be with us


shortly. We can only hope it contains measures designed to


strengthen public service broadcasting and not to eviscerate


it at the behest of its commercial rivals. Indeed, I think we should do


more than hope. I'd like to believe that today's debate will be seen as


a shot across the bows of any government from any party wishing to


bring forward measures that could damage one of this country's two


most highly regarded institutions. In a world running short on trust


the BBC remains a significantly more credible organisation than any of


those who for political or commercial reasons seek to undermine


it. Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of chairing an event at Bafta


discussing the future of public service broadcasting. At the end of


what was a lively session, I suggested that there was such public


interest in this area that any attempt by government to undermine


the BBC and its independence would be met by a march down Whitehall


that would make the countryside Alliance look like a tea party. I


sincerely believe that could be the case, I sincerely hope it will be


there and I hope the rest of the country would back it. My Lords, I


too congratulate noble Lord Lord Best and members of this committee


on an excellent and wide-ranging report. I've long been a critical


friend of the BBC, believing it to be the best broadcaster in the


world, and indeed one of the best gifts of this nation to the world.


And the committee's report talks in similar terms, describing the BBC as


one of this nation's most treasured institutions, a keystone of British


rod casting, respected across the world, and it talks of the BBC


playing a central role in the wider creative industries. But, my Lords,


it is vital that as the Government finalises its deliberations on a new


charter, nothing is done which will undermine the BBC's ability to


continue to merit such accolades, and nothing should be done to


undermine the independence and impartiality of the BBC. The noble


Lord Lord Puttnam said that this should be the top priority, and I


entirely agree with him. And the noble Lord Lord Fowler, with a


distinguished track record in these areas, talked powerfully about the


need to develop mechanisms to reduce government interference in the BBC,


and when he speaks later, my noble and learned friend Lord Lester will


talk about how he believes statutory underpinning can help and I look


forward to hearing his contribution. The committee report makes clear,


and I entirely agree with it, that maintaining independence and


impartiality will be aided by a new charter which lasts for at least ten


years. On Tuesday in your lordship's house I noted that the noble lady


the Minister referred to the value of a Royal Charter lasting for what


she described as a good period of time. I hope very much that she will


accept the committee's recommendation for a minimum 10-year


period. Since this will not only help protect the independence and


impartiality, but it will also provide security in terms of


planning and investment for the BBC, and as the report points out,


stability for the wider creative industries that relate to the BBC.


But, of course, that security and stability would be undermined if the


charter period is set for a good period of time but includes a


mid-term review whose scope allows for the unpicking of bits of the


charter itself, and I hope we can receive free assurances that that


will not be the case. And the report makes one other important


recommendation on the length of the charter, suggesting that the next


Charter should be and not ten years, to decouple the Charter review


process from the General Election cycle, and to allow full


consultation and dialogue. I think that is an extremely sensible


proposal and I look forward to hearing the noble lady, the


Minister's thoughts on it. My Lords, the committee, as we have heard,


consciously did not cover the issue of governance of the BBC. Their


decision in the words of the report to eschew governments was well


founded, given the subsequent announcement of the review. Sir


David's review proposed the most radical overhaul of the BBC's


governance in its lifetime, ensuring the regulation of the BBC fully


passes to an external regulator in Ofcom, while governance being


transferred to a new unitary board with executive and nonexecutive


directors. Now, my Lords, I oppose the establishment of the BBC Trust,


a fruitless venture as the noble Lord Lord Fowler called it. I


thought it was entirely wrong to set a better body that sought to be both


a flag waver for the BBC and a regulator of the BBC. These two


roles are incompatible and Sir David's proposal for an external


regulator and a unitary board resolves this conflict and I welcome


them. However, like others who have already spoken, I do not believe the


independence of the BBC will be achieved if the nonexecutive members


of the proposed board our government appointees. The Secretary of State


of the CMS said recently that he didn't think the government


appointment of BBC non-executives to the board would undermine


independence, and pointed out that all 12 of the current members of the


BBC Trust were appointed by government. Us DCMS. I think is


wrong. The current trust is far less powerful than the proposed unitary


board which will set the BBC's editorial direction, make key


decisions on programmes and even have a say on how the BBC manages


news. Given these important powers to government appointees will


understandably lead to accusations that we are creating a state


broadcaster and not a public service broadcaster. And a bizarre situation


could arise where decisions around how the BBC is reporting government


policy, or the action of ministers, is being decided by people appointed


by the same government, by the same minister, that simply cannot be


acceptable. Channel 4 has a similar board to the one proposed to the BBC


and its nonexecutive is our appointed by Ofcom and not by the


government. I believe the BBC non-executives should also be


appointed by an independent body, whether by Ofcom, or some other


independent group. But my Lords, while the report best you'd


governance, it has had a great deal to say about the scale and scope of


the BBC. There has been much talk about the BBC becoming a market


failure only broadcaster, filling the gaps left by other broadcasters.


And of the BBC becoming significantly more distinctive. Now,


I hope that in their deliberations on this issue the Government will


not be influenced by the recent report on the BBC's report and use


it to justify going down this particular route because I believe


that the report is Ford, framing contrary to all the evidence such as


Ofcom tracking data, that BBC One has become less distinctive. But the


report also ignores wider public values and why the economic -- wider


economic benefits to UK POC. The report looked at what revenue


benefits there would be to commercial broadcasting competitors


of making the BBC less popular. The revenue benefits that they came up


with would be small. ?155 million that they quote which is just one


quarter of last year's increase in TV advertising revenues and just a


of ITV's pre-tax profits following this route, according to research


done by Reuters, PWC and endless analysis, or show that it would have


a negative overall impact on the wider UK media sector, let alone for


UK plc, for a very small benefit to the BBC's direct competitors. I


entirely reject the market failure only approach, and I'm delighted the


committee came to the same conclusion. They say, as we heard


from the noble Lord Lord Best, we have not heard a convincing case for


a significant reduction in the scale or scope of the BBC, and the report


concludes that the BBC should not be restricted to remedying apps which


the market does not provide, the BBC must continue to be a universal


broadcaster providing content which does not simply inform and educate,


but also entertains. And in terms of inform, educate and entertain, I


entirely support the committee's view is that they should be the


basis of the BBC's mission and given greater progress Willey prominence.


If this scale and scope of the BBC is to be maintained it needs to


receive the appropriate income to achieve it, that means there should


be no further top slicing of the BBC's licence fee income and no


additional constraints to the BBC's commercial activities. During the


Coalition Government I strongly oppose the Conservative proposals to


take money from the licence fee to fund free TV licences from the


over-75s. I argued that government policies should be funded by the


government. I was pleased my Right Honourable friend Nick Clegg vetoed


the proposals and it didn't take place. So I'm extremely disappointed


that the current government has now gone ahead to the detriment of the


BBC. And proposals for further top slicing, or new contestable funding,


I believe should be rejected. Such proposals would mean less money for


the BBC to spend on its services, create additional bureaucracy and


transaction costs, it would risk transferring resources away from


advertising free services, and from programmes guaranteed to have high


reach and impact. It would run the risk of poor quality programming. My


Lords, two thirds of BBC content spend is already contested and that


figure is set to increase. There is, therefore, no case for a separate


contestable top slice fund from the licence fee, nor is there any case


for requiring the BBC to sell off either BBC worldwide or the BBC's


stake in UK TV. Both would deprive licence fee payers of the financial


and other benefits they currently receive, including funding for high


quality programming. My Lords, the BBC is undoubtedly the best


broadcaster in the world. And I hope in their Charter negotiations the


Government will do nothing to damage that reputation. Heeding the


recommendations of the excellent Select Committee report should form


an important component of their deliberations, so that we do achieve


Reith and not revolution. I speak as a member of the Select Committee


that produced this report and must declare an interest as co-chair of


the multi-faith standing conference of the BBC on religion and ethics.


But also related to that work I do want to speak about the place of


faith in public service broadcasting, and indeed speak for


all the faith communities in these islands.


It has been said that if a mission statement is more than two or three


words long, it either means the organisation doesn't really know its


purpose or even if it does, no one else will. Let me give you a fewer


examples. Girl power, flower power, new Labour, the Big Society, I won't


go on. Consequently, a mission statement, if it is to work has to


be pithy and memorable. And Lord Reith's inform, educate and


entertain does the job and has done the job effectively for a long time.


Everyone knows it. And when the last charter renewal purpose landed the


BBC with six very wordy and very worth the public purposes, it wasn't


doing them a favour. As we, the committee, took evidence on these


six public purposes, it was clear that people who came to talk about


them didn't really know them very well themselves. I noticed that each


person came with their crib sheet to remind themselves of what these


purposes were about. They had clearly failed the memorability


test. I also noted that these new purposes, while in some senses in


possible to disagree with, the word entertain, which is surely a first


base requirement for someone actually paying the license fee,


didn't appear at all. Hence, the title of our report, Reith Not


Revolution. As we look forward to the forthcoming Charter renewal, it


is our strong view that the BBC should regroup around this historic


vocation. I think we do also want to say that it is good for the BBC to


be entertaining. And we do not want public service broadcasting


relegated to just those bits of the output that free-market won't


deliver. We are, in this country, and rightly proud of the BBC and its


place in our national life. It's wider mission through the world


Service and its key contribution as part of a vibrant, mixed economy of


broadcasting in this country, one that is the envy of many other


countries in the world. But we're not without criticism. To those


three words which so admirably sum up the whole point of public service


broadcasting, we are tentatively adding a fourth. Lord Best has


already mentioned it, reflect. And it is to this recommendation that I


would like to speak and will limit what I say. Just as the BBC is


called to educate, inform and entertain the nation, surely it must


reflect the nation as well. And this reflection must be more than merely


regional. It is not just about sprinkling the airwaves with


Yorkshire, Scouse, Essex or Scottish accents. The UK is still a family of


nations and within that a network of regions each with its own culture


and identity, but 21st-century Britain is also a network of


communities. And many of these communities find their identity in


ethnic origin and religious faith, much more than geographic location.


This is certainly the case in the East End of London where I serve as


a bishop, one of the most multicultural and multi-faith places


in the whole of Europe. And having returned yesterday from the 16th


meeting of the worldwide Anglican consultative Council where we


discussed with Christians from all around the world what it means to be


Christian in a world of greatest diversity and great difference, we


should also remember that multi-faith and multiculturalism in


Britain today also means significant Christian communities from around


the world practising their faith here as well as the presence of


other faith communities. Going forward, the BBC needs to work


harder at being better at reflecting this new multiracial and multi-faith


place of Britain. -- face of Britain. In particular, broadcasting


needs to be given a much higher priority in educating, informing


and, yes, entertaining us with the beauty and challenges of this


diversity. However, across the public service broadcasting sector,


religious broadcasting has been in decline for quite a long while.


Contrary to the assumptions of a largely secular media, religion is


not a Private matter, a sort of add-on to the rest of life for


people who like that sort of thing. Faith is not a leisure activity.


Rather, for those of us who live by faith, religious belief is essential


and formation all. A prime motivator of both individuals and communities


shaping their world view and inspiring and informing their


political, economic, ethical and social behaviour. Our whole nation


needs to wake up to this. And if the BBC is to be the broadcaster of the


nation and reflect our national life, then it must do, too. This


being so, it is hard to comprehend why the BBC has never appointed a


religion editor in the same way that it has an editor, an interpreter for


business, economics, politics, the arts, sports, etc. In July 2015,


Ofcom were voicing similar misgivings, their third review of


public service broadcasting identified religious broadcasting as


an area of immediate concern. Now, the BBC is still the dominant


provider of religious programmes and many of these are excellent and for


this I give thanks, but it remains the case that the BBC downgraded the


post of head of religion in January 2015 so that the post holder no


longer has authority to commission programmes. Commissioning is where


the power really lies. And this now sits with non-subject specialists in


multi-genre commissioning, a team of history, science, business and


religion. This makes strategic decisions about commissioning almost


impossible to make and limit the BBC's ability to fulfil its mission.


My Lords, at a time when it is nigh on impossible to understand the


world and understand what is going on in the world, and understand how


best to find solutions for the world so that we can live in peace, it is


impossible to do this without an understanding of religion. Those who


care about our democracy, as well as those who care about faith, need to


press the BBC to answer this question, who has overall


responsibility for the range, quantity and quality of religious


programming? Since our report, also voices concerns about the downward


trend in spending on current affairs, it is not difficult to see


how the BBC needs to strengthen its commitment to these areas of


broadcasting. Hence the expectation in our report that the BBC maintains


its commitment to religious broadcasting, increases its


commitments to current affairs and to the arts, and my personal hope,


that this is improved upon and the following recommendation, that the


BBC as the recipient of the universal licence fee needs its duty


to serve all the diverse communities of the UK and that this obligation


should be incorporated into any future accountability framework. My


Lords, I have the very great pressure to serve on the select them


committee on Communications and the distinguished chairmanship of the


noble lord Lord Best and I also pay tribute to our assistance and clerks


and special adviser to whom he referred. The BBC played a very


important part in my life, my childhood and after that. And so I


must declare that interest straightaway. Each day at 5pm while


I had my tea, I listened to Children's Hour. The Reithian


principles of inform, educate and entertain work, so it turned out, to


be a bedrock of my formative years. My favourite was Toytown, Larry Lamb


and Dennis the- town. I immediately identified with Larry the land,


being a shy, mild-mannered child. I did not realise until later in my


life that there are so many of these in the world, and even as I


discovered, one or two in your Lordships House. I also identified


with Norman Henry Bones the boy detectives. I had cousins who were


very similar who were Norman and Peter who often looked after me


used to let me out of the air raid shelter to see searchlights


illuminate the sky and then to listen out for the drone of German


bombers on their way to raid the docks at Ipswich. With one strayed,


demolishing a House only three or four houses away. I will always


remember my cousins wise advice, do not tell your mother, which came in


handy in the years to come. On another occasion, one afternoon in


the garden I noticed the sky full of planes turning gliders, it seemed


ages before they passed and no one could tell me what they were. Later,


however, we heard on the news that the gliders had landed at an arm as


part of operation market Garden. The BBC's news was an important part of


our day. My father was a soldier overseas in North Africa, Italy and


then Europe, building bridges. We did not hear from him very often but


the BBC will correspondence wove a narrative into which my imagination


inserted my father, Winfred Lord Thomas, and others were household


names with their brilliant word pictures as the wall progressed from


depression to jubilation, and the theme music for plays and serials


remains with me. They introduced each part of Ballet Shoes one of the


superb serialised books. Who can forget the introductory music to


Dick Barton's special agents? The BBC entertained us and at ten past


one on Saturday, we laughed, and on Sunday, we were introduced to


different communities. As they grow older, the importance of the BBC did


not diminish. All children must stare at the night sky and wonder at


its enormity, I certainly did, and the programme Journey Into Space


promoted that wonder and stimulator to my imagination. Laughter has


always been of great importance. I think it brings wisdom and good


health and well-being. Laughter and the absurd is part of the groove


binding us together and the feature of a civilised society. The Goon


show and Hancock 's half hour work related examples of great


performances, and that tradition has continued. The sad death yesterday


of Victoria Wood is a reminder of a tradition which includes the likely


lads, Fawlty Towers and many others. Your Lordships, will have your own


favourites. The sheer brilliance of performers, producers and


programmers at the BBC has brought entertainment, education and


information to me in my lifetime and as we listened to the evidence in


committee, I reflected on how fortunate I had


been to live through times of enormous technological change such


as colour TV, HDE, free view, I and so one. But where the skills of


programming had maintained a very high level. Today, the quality and


creativity have never been higher. The ability to market programmes


such as these are worldwide provides an essential stream of income for


the BBC and North 's not be tossed back must not be harmed or


diminished. Wherever I go around the world I hear accolades of the BBC. I


do not think we appreciate how significant this power is. There


were many criticism, of course, and we met a focus group of young


people, some of whom told us they thought the BBC did not represent


minorities and they did not see their own lives reflected on the


screen. Lord Hall for the BBC replied he was seeking to make a


real difference on the any representation both on screen and


behind it. We expect the BBC to honour its commitment and encourage


regional development. We were impressed by Salford quays, and


Birmingham and Cardiff. The BBC has become less London centric and this


must continue. We did not believe the BBC should be restricted to


remedying gaps for which the market does not provide, and on the


contrary concluded the BBC must continue to be a universal


broadcaster providing content, that also entertains.


We have no evidence to support the claim that the BBC crowded out


commercial competition. On the contrary we received evidence of the


positive benefits of the wider discovering of developing of talent


and the encouragement of training. We were not persuaded the BBC should


reduce the scale or scope of its operations either in the United


Kingdom or overseas. Others have described recommendations on the


licence fee and Charter period with which I totally agree. My Lords, I


end as I began. The BBC has played an important part in my life and it


continues to do so. I was once a part-time sheep farmer and each day


I begin by listening to Farming Today and having Spencer May my time


here today in your lordship's house I end with today in Parliament,


sometimes enraged, sometimes entertained but always a little more


educated and informed. The BBC, one of our greatest assets, nothing


should be done to harm it. I declare an interest as a producer


and director in BBC television and I'm very grateful for the kind words


that have been said about the content that my colleagues produce,


we do indeed try and informed, educate and entertain. And like to


congratulate the report stressing the importance of the BBC as an


independent, well funded public service broadcaster. I'm pleased


with the emphasis given in chapter two to the importance of strong,


independent regulator for the BBC, and I too understand why the report


didn't look at governance. But I like the noble Lords Lord Puttnam,


Lord Foster and Lord Fowler and concerned at about the assumption in


paragraph of the report about the statutory governments of the


Corporation being this place. The White Paper, I understand, is


proposing to set up a unitary board combining the present BBC executive


board and BBC Trust regulated by Ofcom. What seems to be very


important which is what the noble Lord, Lord Foster explained, was


this unitary board will be more powerful than the Trust, so much


more powerful than the Trust, it will control the BBC's strategy, and


editorial guidance, and day-to-day broadcast of the BBC, drafting and


approving editorial guidelines, maintaining editorial standards and


editorial complaints unless they are appealed to Ofcom. The Trust has


nowhere near such editorial influence. As a result the board of


this body has got to be absolutely independent. So it can be accused to


being subjected to political interference or pressure. I fear


that this independence will not be safeguarded. I too was disappointed


by Sir David Clementi's reports suggesting the chairman,


vice-chairman and four nonexecutive directors should be appointed by the


DCMS. And when I read in the Sunday Times the Culture Secretary saying


ten of the 13 members of the unitary board should be appointed by the


Government with only three members from the BBC, my concern about the


adverse affect about the independence of the BBC was


compounded by fears voiced by Sir David Norrington who retired as


Commissioner for Public appointments earlier this month. He told the


Financial Times this month that without the check and balance of the


Liberal Democrats in government, there was a feeling by the present


government that if you want to get things done you need to have people


who supervises in key roles. He followed this up in his evidence to


the public administration committee in he expressed concern following


the Government's response to the report, that there is a threat of


increased ministerial interference in the selection of public


appointments. He said the appointment of the last BBC Trust


chair had been well won and was free of ministerial interference.


However, he warned that having seen the Government's response to the


composer was, such a hands off approach might not be possible in


the future. I support Lord Foster and Lord Puttnam's suggestions that


they should be an independent body that will appoint the board members.


If we fail to do that your Lordships only have to look at the political


interference with the appointments of a sickie tips in public service


broadcasters that takes place in many partner countries in the EU.


Many are appointed director by the government and change when the


government changes, or individual channels are controlled by separate


parties. These have an influence on the political alliance of the


station and means they are not impartial which I'm sure your


Lordships would not want to happen. I've got an e-mail this morning from


the wife of an opposition leader in Poland, who explained what was


happening with the Polish broadcasters. Of course, this is not


relevant to what our government proposes but it is a warning of how


extremely fragile the independence of public service broadcasters is.


The e-mail goes: the Polish government has dismissed the


independent board which are supposed to supervise state TV, fired all of


the heads of radio and TV, appointed new ones, all such appointments will


now be made directly by government ministers and drastically alter the


nature of programming. As a result over 100 journalists have been fired


or resigned. The result, the meanest style pro-ruling party propaganda of


a kind we have not seen in Poland since 1989. Of course, this is not


what is going to happen here, but I would urge your Lordships to be


aware of what a precious thing is the independence of the BBC. As a


former editor at Newsnight I know first-hand what they will do to


ensure that their view of the world is projected on the BBC. In my


experience this relates to all governments of all political


persuasions and I fear that we live in a world in which many people


think if you are not with them you must be against them. The BBC and


other broadcasters are mandated to be impartial but it's crucial that


everything is done to defend that position. This reporter said


impartiality is at the core of the BBC. I hope that the minister in


preparing for the White Paper will listen very hard to the massive


public response to the BBC public trust consultation, in which the


people of this country overwhelmingly said they wanted it


to be independent and free from political interference. I asked the


noble lady what will be done in the White Paper to ensure this happens


with the appointments to the new unitary board.


My Lords, I too wish to congratulate the Select Committee communications


under its excellent share Lord Best, having delivered an exemplary


report, both focused in scope and wise in its conclusions, and I


concur with much of what has already been said in its favour and support


that. It is to be commended to all parliamentarians, especially those


eager to see the BBC sold off, or simply shackled. The public, as a


recent poll indicated, is not with them. The BBC remains are loved and


admired institution by the great majority of those who own it, by


which I mean the licence payers of this country. To act in defiance of


the expressed opinions would be to damaged one of our national


institutions to gratify the self interests of the commercial radio


and television Enterprises. My Lords, when I interviewed Lord Reith


in this house back in 1970 he was very disapproving of television. He


deplored the fact they broadcast Jazz, which he regarded as the music


of the devil. He had a distinct preference for educational


programmes, those that instilled rigorous Christian principles and


behaviour. But of course, he was then a man at the end of his life,


to some extent disappointed with that life and embittered about what


he had seen happen to broadcasting. But I'm still sure that the younger


Reith, that vigorous young man, who pressed ahead with the exploring of


television's possibilities in the 1930s in order to be ahead of the


Americans, as he said, that he was the defy of government interference,


turning away Churchill's emissaries at the time of the national strike.


He would be proud of the leading role the BBC plays in sustaining


standards in promoting British interests and influence around the


globe, and in not having commercial breaks. Lord Reith managed to sum up


as we have heard the purpose of the BBC in just one phrase. It can


scarcely be better to inform, educate and entertain. Terse, as my


Lord Bishop has said, and exact. I did not think it could be improved.


However, the suggestion the phrase, and to reflect, by a single word


encompasses and enlarges the remit of the BBC, appropriate to the


Times, is to be commended. The committee's recommendations covered


much but I would just speak to two of them. Having worked within the


BBC throughout numerous licence renewal occasions, I know that the


prospect throws BBC management into a distracted frenzy of concern.


Licence renewal casts a long shadow, distorting the focus and


concentration of its managers, heads of Department, channel controllers,


and even programme makers. It is an ordeal that lasts years, and when


the licence is finally renewed, everyone sits back sighing with


relief that the negotiations have gone away for, well, for how long?


For a good few years. My Lord, this frenzy is even worse around the time


of elections, whether elections are coming up, whether they are just


over. Both leading parties, indeed all parties, blame the BBC for the


supposed broadcasting bias that robbed them of victory, or even


greater success. They can't all be right, but it is a matter of blaming


the messenger. And it makes for a climate of resentment and revenge


that is no mood in which to address serious and thoughtful


considerations over the BBC's future. My Lords, for this reason,


for these reasons, I support the committee's recommendations that the


Charter only come up for renewal every ten years, and that it is on


coupled from that deadly electoral cycle. I think the recommendation is


sound and wise and it would allow for considering long-term planning


which in the global media world means precise marketing knowledge,


and a sense of the rhythm of change to which this industry is subject.


The second concern of the committee which I wish to address is this


matter of scale and scope. There have been suggestions, mainly from


other broadcasting bodies, that the BBC should be limited within its


scope, possibly confining itself to the news and current affairs, Sirius


documentaries, education, all areas of broadcasting which attract low


viewing figures. And therefore they are not prise pickings for


commercial companies. This is clearly a pitched to cut the BBC


down to size. It would be disastrous for the BBC as a global player. It


is essential that its creative heart line is given scope to be inventive


across the whole area of human activity. That's where it's genius


lies. What other company would have backed a modest idea to encourage


people to bake cakes and see it grow into a global format? And once it


was successful would such a format be declared beyond the BBC's scope?


What happens now? The whole concept is flawed and unworkable. My Lords,


the BBC faces change and needs to change. The media landscape is


always shifting and it needs the backing of government and of the


industry to continue as the flagship of broadcasting it is known to be


worldwide. I have only been in your lordship's


has 452 years but are used to do media research and I am only hairy


Lee I think because of my grandfather. -- I am only here,


really. With recommendations as to the


conditions under which such services should be offered. Results, the


Selsdon report. I had never heard of that, because I wasn't sure why I


had a different name from my father. I did do media research quite


thoroughly over a period of time and at home we were only allowed to


listen to the BBC. In fact, everyone else was bound, including in the


early days of television. It was in May 1934 that the government first


appointed a committee under the guidance of my grandfather to begin


enquiries into the viability of setting up a public television


service with recommendations as to the conditions under which the


service should be offered. My Lords, I have a tremendous affection for


the BBC. I cannot help it. In the days when I did media research, we


tended to be influenced ourselves mainly by characters. My Lords, here


in your lordship's House, we have a remarkable depth of knowledge and


experience but we don't necessarily know each other. There was, and


there still is, a BBC advisory Council which goes on and on but the


BBC is a global institution, it is not a British institution. If you


have been in parts of Africa where in order to encourage local


communities to come operate in mind mining or things like that, you hand


out the radio to work or they may listen to the BBC, you realise the


extent of its coverage and the respect in which it is held. What it


does is another matter. With television, it is a fairly fickle


and -- difficult matter. We don't have necessarily the media research


and depth of marketing that one would expect on a global basis. I do


not see why there should not be a special relationship with every


Commonwealth country to be able to broadcast programmes daily and


constantly write a way around the world, the technology is all ready


there and the expertise remains. My Lords, I would like to make a simple


suggestion, we need to have a programme, a business plan that we


will look at the BBC. I know I am hearing entirely because of my


grandfather, I know that I was never allowed to listen to any programme


that was not BBC. They couldn't, however, teach me languages. I was


sent off to various countries. With that type of respect, I find myself


unable to be of much assistance to your Lordships today. However, what


I would like the government to give a little bit more attention


that in developing Britain British relationships, the BBC could play a


more important role than it does today, not least on television and


production and syndication of programmes right the way across the


world including its value in the learning of English. So waste it


down and say thank you to your Lordships will come in here today. I


am so surprised that I find out more about myself than I deemed possible


and wondered why my grandfather had never told me anything about it and


why I was never allowed to watch television until they reached a


certain age. I wish the BBC well, I have a great affection for it and


that will remain with me until I die. First of all, may I


congratulate the noble lord Lord vessel securing this debate at a


particularly timely moment. -- Lord best. There is so much I agree with,


but if I were to talk about it I would just take, take. In this


debate I hope there is room to proceed, to see the BBC not so much


through the prism of the review, though that has been mother sleep


addressed by previous speakers in detail -- marvellously. But from the


general point of view of someone who works with it, as I do, he began his


career there in 1961 as a trainee, who listened to the radio in the 40s


and in a sense was, if I may use the word, suckled by it and I believe it


is a unique force for excellence and cohesion in this country. Currently,


the BBC is on tremendous form. Its recent dramas and art pulling off


hype ratings and high praise. They have got three out of three so far


and it is only April. In the end, the BBC is the sum of its


programmes. Panorama row gram on the Panama set up boldly set up the


context for a continuing debate. Newsnight had the nerve to bite the


hand that feeds all could starve it and has wounded it already with its


pees on Mr Whittingdale. The news struggles with impartiality and


balancing some arguments that it is still walking the tightrope


admirably. Above the noise, there is the even beat of the five national


and many regional radio channels that perhaps more than any


productions, best represent the muscle, pulse and the mind of this


nation. Wherever there are debates on the BBC, as we mentioned, and I


have taken part in many dozen, always, there is a wholly convincing


majority for supporting BBBC. I see no demonstrations about the BBC in


our streets, where in our country there would be demonstrations about


the removal of a bus stop. It encourages a multitude of writers,


actors, producers, directors, talent in radio and television which is the


cornerstone of the cultural power that this country undoubtedly has at


the moment and no other country has it. It is comparatively inexpensive


and works magnificently and delivers for this country and is still


recognisably inside the discipline of Lord Reith. But we seem to exist


in an atmosphere of permanent crisis about the future of the BBC. From


the government and also from parts of the media as if it were a


patient. Most averse to not see what the fuss is about. -- most of us.


Some grievances need to be addressed, such as the Imperial


growth of the BBC disturbs the unsubsidised parts of our economy


and the BBC is right to be much more aware of it more than ever before.


The BBC is so fast in its output that it is not too difficult to pick


up or embellish stories, and ensure in certain knowledge that the


compelling letters BBC will draw readers attention to the content of


that story. It is at once a national treasure and a national dartboard, a


dual role. It is argued by some the BBC's fundamental similarity, or


peculiarity, is an affront to the prevailing capitalism of the day,


and in some ways it does interfere. All, it is a stimulator in


alternative, adding to the variety of this country, it's richness,


oppositional argument. It furthers the roles of others,


tempers and enriches with the competition of the BBC. This country


is and always has been, a place of tribes. Ethnically different,


culturally diverse. In Ireland -- Islands bounded by and bonded by the


seas. Many have tried and failed to reach out to all jostling, sometimes


rival groups, over the centuries and through democracy we have finally


arrived at April double though fragile method of inclusion. BBBC's


democratic inclusiveness is not only a strength, it is its purpose. We


want the best in our society and despite catcalls from the galleries,


several of our institutions try and can succeed in bringing together the


existing and new tribes. The BBC does what it does with style and


consistency and force, bringing together majorities and minorities


watching the same programmes or live events. Most of all, the BBC is a


statement of public service, that phrase has seen its meaning weakened


over the years. Pro bono publico has not gone away,


millions of people in this country is still alive to it, still working


by it, still believing that to work is one thing and to serve the public


is another and they needn't be separate. You could say that


especially today that we see the monarchy under Her Majesty Queen


Elizabeth II as a symbol of public service and the admiration, even


reference, is to do with the palpable sense of service to the


public. The BBC still remains despite its gas, being treated by


the government as it cash cow for social policies, a symbol this


country craves. People want to return to what they think of us


living properly. What Orwell called the decency of these people. Of


course, this includes us. We have to create wealth, make a living and


constructor complexes sired two bit wheels are needed in element of


something else, perhaps the word better might serve.


But is it unfettered by the demands of making and getting? Independent


and the name of all of us without which we would be so much poorer and


it would be so much less of a place. If it is chipped away as the BBC is


chipped away, as some people out there want it to be chipped away, we


will be much less and we will have lost what has been so strenuously


built-up, cherished and loved over many decades, that is something


unique something which Lord Best said at the beginning of this


debate, we can be, and are, proud. My Lords, like Olmo bull Lords who


have spoken so far in the debate, I congratulate Lord Best and his


committee -- like all noble Lords. On his excellent report. Continuing


uncertainty about the Government's plans is very harmful to the BBC and


to the public interest. The continual uncertainty at the


Government's dumping of the cost of free licensing for the over-75s on


the BBC rather than taxpayers have undermined morale within the BBC, as


well as public trust and confidence. The Dominant is likely to replace


the BBC Trust with a new unitary board as recommended by Sir David


Clementi. The new board will have executive functions relating to the


content of its broadcasts. That makes it essential that the chair,


deputy chair, and other members of the board are independent and


manifestly seem to be independent. It is essential they are


independently appointed without ministerial influence. Lord Hall has


rightly said that the BBC needs regulation that is effective but not


prescriptive. He's emphasised the importance of protecting the BBC's


independence, recalling that Willie Whitelaw gave the BBC a 15 year


Charter. The Government should follow that example for the next 11


years. What we call a Royal Charter is really a ministerial Charter.


It's a Charter shaped by ministers using the prerogative powers


inherited from the Crown. We speak of Parliamentary sovereignty as the


cornerstone of the British constitution, but it is ministers


and not Parliament that determine the scope and effect of the Charter.


There are no overarching binding principles approved by parliament,


but ministers for the BBC must respect. As Lord Birt, former


director-general and television journalist said during the debate on


the 10th of March, a Royal Charter, far from being a powerful symbol and


safeguard of the BBC's independence, on the contrary, it enables


governments to be less countable van even medieval kings. To amend the


Charter through the Privy Council and to inflict unprincipled and


material change on the BBC. -- accountable than even. It is time to


place the BBC on a statutory footing. My Lords, Lord Fowler, on


whose most powerful speech I congratulate him, Lord Fowler and


Lord Inglewood, another former chair of the communications committee,


have suggested that the Charter is an anomaly that should be replaced


by legislation, much as Channel 4. But it is inconceivable, as the


Minister will confirm, that the present government would agree to


dispense with the Charter. In truth, the choice is not only a binary


choice between legislation and Charter, a statute could and should


set out the governing principles protecting the independence and


effectiveness of the BBC as public service broadcaster, and the core


duties of the BBC and of the Secretary of State. It should make


the Charter and Charter changes subject to approval by both Houses


of Parliament. In that way the BBC's independence would be protected


against political interference. So, as others have indicated, I'm


fashioning a bill to provide a framework of core principles and


duties governing ministers and the BBC, and the Charter and its


renewal, while leaving the detail to be covered in the Charter and the


accompanying agreement. I hope it will have support in Parliament and


Whitehall. Several noble Lords who can't be here today have authorised


me to indicate their support including Lord Inglewood and Lord


Pannick. My Lords, the bill will provide for the BBC to be a


statutory Corporation, established by Royal Charter, but subject to the


bill's criteria. The bill will underpin the BBC's duty as public


service broadcaster to serve the public interest by informing,


educating and entertaining the people of the United Kingdom,


including its nations, regions or communities by means of television,


radio, online services and other similar services. It's important for


the BBC and nobody else to define the scope of public service


broadcasting and its limits. The bill will protect the BBC's


independence as regards the content of its output, The Times and manner


at which the output is supplied and the governance and management of its


affairs. The Secretary of State, other ministers of the Crown, the


BBC and anyone else with a responsibility for the BBC's


governance will have a duty to ensure that the BBC is able to


operate independently from ministers and other public authorities in the


United Kingdom. The Secretary of State will be required to make


available to the BBC sufficient funds to enable the BBC to perform


its functions to promote public purposes as a public service


broadcaster. The licence fee must be for the exclusive use of the BBC in


performing those functions. It will be indexed linked and increased at


least against inflation. The BBC's funding must be protected against


top slicing, as happened for example under the current licence fee deal


with ?115 million per year is diverted from the licence fee to


subsidise BT's broadband roll-out. The Secretary of State will not be


able to transfer public expenditure to the BBC. If ministers and future


ministers want to change this they will have to persuade Parliament to


legislate my Lords, the BBC's use of the licence fee carries


responsibilities but those are matters not for the Government but


for the new board and senior staff and regulator. Under my build there


will be an independent external regulator, whether Ofcom or


otherwise to oversee the performance of the BBC's duties as public


service broadcaster, including any increase above inflation in the


licence fee. The Secretary of State and other ministers will be


forbidden to seek to influence the BBC's decisions will stop the


Secretary of State will be required to have regard to the need to defend


the BBC's independence, the need for the BBC to have the financial and


non-financial support needed to enable it to exercise its functions


and the need for the public interest to be considered in regard to


matters relating to the BBC. An independent board of I suggest not


more than 40 members, including the chair and deputy chair, will govern


the BBC -- 14 members. They should be people with skill, knowledge and


experience needed to perform the functions as public service


broadcaster. Members should be drawn from across the nations and regions


of the United Kingdom, including the BBC licence fee's payers and present


and former members of staff. Crucially, they must not be


political appointments, but must be appointed by an independent


appointments committee established by the Commissioner for Public


appointments. The board will be required to carry out its duties in


an open and transparent manner. The Royal Charter and any amendments to


the Charter will not have effect or be granted, unless the draft or


amendment has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each


house of Parliament. My Lords, for the last six years the BBC has seen


no increase in its funding from the licence fee so it has had to make


millions of pounds of cuts in its services and staff. But reforms are


needed and reforms are being made. The number of managers remains far


too high in spite of commitments to reduce their ranks by 1000. The BBC


must not operate from an ivory tower broadcasting to an intellectual


elite. But the BBC has become overblown and top-heavy, and


involved in commercial projects that could be left to others. Again,


these are matters for the board and the senior staff and the regulator


to address, not for government. My Lords, the public enthusiastically


trust the BBC, as we have said in this debate repeatedly, and


appreciates the public service it provides. The BBC staff do their


best to deliver a first class and balanced public service despite the


worsening financial pressures. This government has dumped more than ?600


million in public spending on to the BBC by transferring the cost of


licence fees for the over-75s. This makes the BBC carry the burden of


fulfilling part of the Government's welfare policy. The BBC is now faced


with serious threat of the new unitary board that is appointed


politically by ministers and may influence content. My Lords, as


several of my Lords have said, the BBC is a national treasure that


could easily be harmed by government interference. We all want to ensure


the independence of the BBC so that it pursues the Reithian principles


that have made it the most respected broadcaster in the world. I hope


that the government will accept the need for a properly funded BBC that


is independent and free from political interference, and is able


with its guaranteed income to produce impartial, high-quality


programming that is envied over the world. That's what my bill will seek


to safeguard. But, my Lords, ultimately it is the public, to coin


a phrase, that must fight and fight and fight again for the BBC they


loaf. -- they love. My Lords, and delighted to take part in this


debate on the report aptly named Reith Not Revolution and I thank


Lord Best for his excellent and diligent chairmanship. As many noble


Lords have already made clear it is essential the BBC remains the


keystone of British broadcasting and continues to play a central role in


the wider creative industries. The BBC must maintain its reputation for


quality and independence throughout the world. This is only possible


with the continued support from government in keeping with the


overwhelming wishes of the British public apparent from the DCMS's


consultation sponsor summary published in March this year.


Findings showed that the public do value the BBC and believe it


produces high and distinctive content and wants it to remain


independent. But as in our report, concern was voiced that the BBC


falls short for some viewers such as reaching black, Asian and ethnic


minority and young audiences and presenting the lives of people in


the UK's nations and regions. Just to highlight how important the BBC


is for the country it's worth stating that BBC services reach 97%


of the UK population every week with an average of around 8.5 hours of TV


and over ten hours of BBC radio per head. For ?145.50 per year audiences


have provided nine national TV channels, ten national radio


channels, 39 local radio stations and a wealth of online and mobile


services including BBC Three, iPlayer and bbc.co.uk. But as our


report says, the committee has high expectations for the BBC than of


other public broadcasters. The BBC must play its part by reaffirming


the Reithian principles to inform, educate and entertain, and also to


reflect better the society we live in as other noble Lords have


mentioned. The BBC should make a particular commitment to reflect the


nation's regions and all the diverse communities of the UK. The BBC has


unique obligations to its audiences Aggers it is established by Royal


Charter, no matter how controversial that is today and dispensable source


of funding is universal licence fee. It must set the gold standard


amongst the public service broadcasters and thereby remain one


of the nation's most treasured institutions.


In a paid is that the BBC recognises the attitude be held firmly to


account by licence fee payers, Parliament and by the new regulator,


but it is also imperative that the BBC must retain its creative and


editorial freedom to react to the highly competitive media market and


social conditions. That is why our report wants to see the BBC better


reflect UK society in all its diversity. We were concerned to


hear, and I quote, from a number of witnesses who felt the BBC did not


reflect their lives, particularly from the panel of young people,


those with a disability and those from with in the BAe -- B M A


community. The BBC has recognised this and we expect to see an


improvement in this. The head of diversity and inclusion at the BBC


said, we all want to get the same result. The BBC where all our


audiences can see their lives then took leave portrayed by all our


programmes, where our programmes are made from a diverse group of people


and where your background, what ever it is, is no bearing on your


opportunity to have a career here. The proportion of black, Asian and


female workforce is at an all-time high. I welcome the independent


group, including the noble Baroness, Lady Taney Grey Thompson, who will


continue to hold the BBC to account. Likewise, it is good to see the new


BBC Academy in Birmingham which aims to attract the best talent from all


over the UK. It extended recruitment which tries to recruit people from


the disabled background has reached 628 people in the time it has been


running. Last year, the BBC launched a programme to try to develop young


BMAE talent and those who reached the end of the programme were first


tracked -- fast tracked into a training role. I hope that it will


successfully meet its targets to successfully employed more BME


people by 2017. It is also important to improve on-air portrayal. The BBC


recognises this with its hope to increase portrayal of BMAE by three


extra percent to 17% by 2017. They are also trying to increase the


number of disabled people on screen. I hope that a new documentary,


bringing Juliet into the 21st-century, recasting her for


today's diverse society, which will have lots of disabled actors and


actresses with in it will be a trailblazer for that. The a word is


described as a brilliant description of family life and is also blazing a


trail. Other ground-breaking programmes are also out there. I


hope the BBC will continue to reflect a modern Britain, ensuring


it remains pertinent to the young, as well as the rest of its audience,


and maintains its vital role within our nation. I'm sure the BBC can


have a vital feature and there is no scope for the Government to reduce


its scope. I hope the charter renewal process will prove an


opportunity to refresh but not fracture the BBC. I rise with some


trepidation as the register of interests notes I am a trustee of


the BBC, that much maligned species. You might ask why I joined the BBC


trust. I did so because the BBC has always been important in my life and


my career. Indeed, I worked in that iconic building, Bush house, as a


journalist and editor for the World Service for some eight years from


1984 to 1992. They're after, I left the BBC to work for the United


Nations and served for many years in Cambodia, the Balkans and the Middle


East. During those years, the BBC was vitally important for me. Far


more important than that, I saw that it was so critically important for


the people with whom I worked in those countries. I worked for Kofi


and man, the former Secretary General of the UN, who once famously


described the BBC as Britain's greatest contribution to the world


in the 20th-century. The World Service has been able to make that


enormous contribution because it is part of the wider BBC which has,


over the past 90 years, done so much to inform, educate and entertain, in


the words of the great John Reid, one of the greatest public servants


this country has ever produced. -- Reith. At the outset, I believe


there can be no argument that the BBC is one of the greatest


organisations in the world. This year marks the 400th birthday of one


of our greatest writers, William Shakespeare, and the BBC will be


marking that with a programme which brings together the Royal


Shakespeare Company, say Ian McKellen, Judi Dench and the Royal


Ballet in a televised event to honour the birthday of the national


bard. It is typical of what our great public broadcaster can do at


its best, bringing together our finest cultural institutions and


stars and broadcast, nationwide, as well as internationally, to the


widest possible audience. The very concept of public service


broadcasting was pioneered here in Britain by the BBC. We should be


immensely proud of that. From 1932, the BBC began to broadcast globally,


first in English and then, in 1938, interestingly, in Arabic, on either


of the Second World War. Sadly the need for broadcasting in that


language is as great now as it was then. I believe that the journalism


at the BBC goes from strength to strength under the leadership of


James Harding, the editor of the News Department. Recently, I saw an


extraordinary report on the ten o'clock News, the News at ten, from


Alistair Lee's head in Nigeria, looking at the horrible movement of


Boca Rampe, the mystery of the 200 girls who were kidnapped by that


bile group. I can't think of another broadcaster who would have given


prime-time coverage to that group and its horrible work. My Lords, I


congratulate Lord Best and his committee for producing an excellent


report that has informed this debate on an institution which is national


as well as international. At a time when our international presence is


diminishing, when much of the world watches with amazement at our


pending referendum, we can ill afford to see the BBC retreat. I


commend the Government for the extra funds it has put at the use of the


BBC in 2015, four African languages and for the establishment of the


Korean service, so long championed by the noble lord. Also for the


encouragement and further meant of the Arabic and Farsi wing of the


BBC. This is the year of charter renewal and I hope it is not marred


by the cuts would have been inflicted on public broadcasters in


Canada and Australia in recent years. I would submit that that is


not a path we want to see the BBC go down. The BBC can ill afford to see


any more surprises from Government of the sort meted out by the


Chancellor last year. As a result of that step, as many of the Lords in


this House have noticed, the BBC has had to take responsibility for the


free licenses for the over 75 is introduced by the Labour Government


led by Gordon Brown. There should be no more acts of this order. The BBC


is not a state broadcaster. It is for governments to decide


appropriate levels of social welfare for the elderly and to accept the


cost and not pass them the BBC. Assurance in that respect from the


Minister would be most welcome and that there will be no similar


action. Turning to Lord Best's report, I, like other members of the


trust, welcomed the suggestion that there should be an 11 year charter,


an 11 year charter which I think is vital to detach the process from the


electoral cycle, that should be obvious to us all. The need for an


independent regulator to set the level of the license the and an end


to the top slicing of the license the or any kind of contestable fund


paid for by the license the pages. The importance of the BBC's


independence, financial, editorial and operational, comes through so


strongly in this report. This independence is vital for the future


of the BBC and it matters crucially to the license payers. Following the


publication of the Green paper on the charter review in July 2015, the


trust launched its own consultation for members of the public to have


their say on the future of the BBC. Alongside this, the trust


commissioned qualitative and quantitative research to examine


issues in greater depth. That consultation found that nine in ten,


some 88% of respondents, felt that it was important that the BBC remain


independent and a large majority, 79%, that that it was very


important. Let me make three critical points. The BBC's financial


independence, that is absolutely imperative to the organisation's


feature. Future funding periods should, I believe, be funded for no


less than six years to provide certainty for planning. Licence fee


monies should be dedicated to BBC services and should not ever again


be used to fund wider Government programmes. The crucial new proposal


relates to a process to determine the license fee will stop after


three I'm clear processes for determining this, the trust is


calling for it to be written into the charter, giving a formal and


clear process with a timescale to be established. The regulator, whether


it is Ofcom or someone else, needs to be empowered to bring evidence in


two the debate on the BBC's funding, providing the Government, Parliament


and the public with proper debate before decisions are taken. It is


also my firm opinion that there should be no bit point review, much


speculated upon in the press. It is a firm opinion of the trust... I'm


sorry, that this would create unnecessary operational uncertainty


for the BBC and make long-term planning difficult. Moreover, it


could potentially affect their ability to invest in projects which


benefit both the public and the BBC -- and the UK's creative industries.


The current charter has shown flexibility to enable the BBC to


react effectively, in a shifting technological landscape. For


example, the decision to launch the eye player in 2007. A midpoint


review, we believe, is unnecessary. Thirdly, and finally, my lord, we


support the proposal from the report for the creation of a unitary board,


independent from the Government, but we have significant concerns that


DCM as should be the organisation with the power to appoint the


unitary board. This, we believe, is unacceptable. Instead, it should be


a transparent process for the appointment of the board.


Ministerial involvement should only be to the appointment of the chair.


This is a view which is widely supported by a polling which the


trust has carried out. Earlier today in this House we carried out a


ceremony to mark the Queen's 90th birthday. The BBC is slightly older


at 94. The Queen's Christmas address is watched by many and it is


remarkable that it was the most watched programme lysed Christmas


Day. It shows again how the BBC can play such a powerful role in


bringing this nation together. My Lords, I too thank Lord Best and


communications committee for this excellent debate based on their


excellent report, both of which highlight in particular the


importance of better governance, great diversity and protection


against political pressure. The report anticipates the BBC trust


will be replaced by an independent regulator, most likely Ofcom which I


welcomed because it is well regarded across business and politics, but


given the replacement of the BBC Trust by an independent regulator


Sir David Clementi's recent review proposes a unitary BBC board of


perhaps 13 members led by a nonexecutive chair with a deputy


chair acting as senior independent director, plus four other


nonexecutive directors designated from the four nations of the United


Kingdom with the balance of five or six nonexecutive members also to be


pointed to a 13 or 14 strong board. The proposed unitary board might


therefore have only two, or perhaps three, executive directors from BBC


management, including of course the director-general. As we have heard,


the DCMS Secretary of State John Whittingdale suggests the Government


might appoint all of the non-executives. That would become as


previous speakers have made clear, a very real threat to the independence


of the BBC, because in an organisation controlled by a unitary


board these government appointees could exert influence in many


sensitive areas including programming decisions. So, one


consideration should therefore be that the next Royal Charter should


therefore make it clear that the ultimate editor in chief of all


programme output is the director-general. Lord Hall, the


current director-general, recently stressed the independence of the BBC


from political pressure must be a priority command as we have heard


today, it is clear that most noble Lords share that view. We now know


that the White Paper on Charter renewal will finally be published


next month, and I hope by then the Government will have backed away


from proposing an appointments procedure which would threaten the


BBC's traditional independence and be very vigorously contested. The


weakness of the Royal Charter process in protecting the BBC from


government interference has long had cogently been argued by the noble


Lord Lord Falconer, who rightly said it should be rooted in statute with


more transparent and democratic decisions debated and endorsed in


Parliament. Lord Birt, former director-general, criticised the way


in which the Royal Charter's proposed safeguards have been


bypassed so easily to divert around 25% of BBC programme budgets to fund


Treasury schemes. Now, unfortunately, it's almost too late


to push through fundamental reforms, but looking forward to Lord Lester's


draft Bill I hope this house can give attention momentum to it. But


we must still use next month's White Paper to press for reforms and other


arrangements. Your Lordships' can indication is committee suggest


scrapping the multiple accountability layers of BBC


bureaucracy and adopting Ofcom's four general Puig service


broadcasting purposes, informing or understanding of the world,


stimulant in knowledge and learning, reflecting UK cultural identity, and


representing diversity and alternative viewpoints. To the


traditional BBC's Reithian tradition, to entertain, inform and,


diversity will no doubt become even greater over the life of the next


BBC Charter. I pick up here on some of the issues raised by Baroness


Healy, my noble friend. In the House of Commons last Thursday debate on


the BBC on diversity was introduced by the MP for Tottenham David Lammy


in an excellent speech. Mr Lambie's motion noted with concern that


black, Asian and minority ethnic people working in the UK creative


media fell by 31% between 2006 and 2012. It also noted that the BBC had


fallen behind other broadcasters in setting and achieving targets for a


more diverse workforce. And diversity of course embraces more


than BAME matters, it's also about the representation and employment of


people with disabilities, lesbian, Gay, bisexual and transgender


people, about regionalism, gender and noble Lords may recall that our


own Communications Committee recently reported on the problems


facing older women working in television. Over the 15 years from


1999 the BBC launched 29 initiatives aimed at improving BAME employment,


and no doubt another initiative will be announced soon. It will be


welcome, but clearly what is needed is action and results if the BBC is


to meet its targets, which at present lag behind Channel 4 and


Sky. Sky entertainment has decreed that all new shows will have 20% of


people from BAME backgrounds insignificant on-screen roles and


targets for regional roles of screen in all productions -- in significant


on-screen roles. In Sky News 15% of interviewees were from BAME


communities. Channel 4 has an vicious targets in its 360 degrees


diversity Charter with an increase from 15% of BAME staff in 2015 to


20% in 2020. Channel 4 has also made remarkable progress in employing and


representing on-screen and off-screen people with disabilities.


My noble friend Baroness Oona King is indeed the driving force on these


issues at Channel 4. Currently the reckoning is that in London, where


national broadcasters are based, around 40% of the population are


from BAME communities, or not British-born. Across the UK the


figure is around 14% and rising. Significantly, BBC One has a share


of 22% of the television audience, but only a 13% share of BAME


viewers. The BAME percentage of the BBC workforce has crept up pretty


slowly in recent years to just over 13%. But that is markedly lower in


senior positions. Interestingly, the Minister for culture Ed Vaizey was


repeatedly praised for the personal and very positive role he plays in


encouraging greater diversity. The Minister in turn praised the work


done to highlight diversity issues by Sir Lenny Henry, the actor Idris


Elba who recently addressed a packed meeting here at Parliament, and


Simon Albury of the campaign for broadcasting equality who is the


former Chief Executive of the Royal Television Society. Esther Albury


says the advances made on-screen in BAME representation are important


but on-screen representation must be matched by more off-screen


employment, especially in the areas of commissioning power and editorial


influence which must be mobilised to drive faster change across the BBC.


Regarding regional diversity the BBC can, I think, be proud of the


progress it has made in spending much more of its programming budget


outside the M25. Media City in Salford has been given a great boost


to production in the North of England, and ITV is also building


its own regional structures in Yorkshire and at what used to be


called Granada land in the north-west, especially with location


drama and serious like Emmerdale and Coronation Street. Scotland, Wales


and Northern Ireland now have shares of BBC programme production that


better reflect their share of UK audiences, a much welcome advance on


past practice. BBC television and radio now has a more diverse


regional spread, but there is surely a lot more that could be done for


the populous Midlands and North East of England. Our judgments on these


matters might be better informed if the BBC were not so grudging in


giving out information about programme budgets and staffing. For


which it was criticised in the Commons debate. How viewers' licence


fee money is spent demands and deserves more transparency. The


diversity of the UK can be defined in so many ways that no Royal


Charter or PSP purpose can capture all of its complexity -- PSP. The


greatest challenge in producing BBC programmes has been defined as


making the good popular and the popular good. The digital platforms


and alternative channels multiplying and competition increasing and


audiences fragment in, the demands on executives and creative producers


will intensify. The demands for quality and higher ratings will at


times not sit easily alongside the targeting of diversity. That is a


challenge that must be guided strongly and imaginatively from the


top of broadcasting organisations, especially one as indispensable to


the UK as the BBC, and I speak as someone who spent 30 years in


broadcasting at a rival of Independent television. That


independence will not be achieved by the BBC trust if it is dominated by


ABC appointees. Between the publication of the White Paper and


the start of the new BBC Charter, Parliament must strive to put the


right structures of governance in place to encourage creativity and


diversity to sustain impartiality and independence, and to reward the


viewing public for the trust and affection they have for the BBC. My


Lords, I too want to pay tribute to the noble Lord Lord Best who chaired


our committee, and I also paid tribute to my fellow committee


members and these are a warm-hearted tribute, and I will explain why. Our


report reminds me of how you produce a souffle. We served up a dish which


looks simple, it contains clear and straightforward observations and


recommendations. But as with a souffle, it involves hours and hours


of toil and sweat in the preparation. Only members of the


committee who were involved in this process can appreciate what agonies


we went through. What happened was this: we did not want to have an


inquiry into every element of the BBC. So we said we would focus on


specific elements one being the public purposes of the BBC. Little


did we know what we were getting into. We thought that this arena of


public purposes would be a light stroll in the garden involving a


pair of secateurs for a little light pruning. Instead we found ourselves


in tangled, almost strangle it, in a thicket six public purposes, a


further six public remits, 28 purpose priorities and 26 service


licences. Add to these Ofcom's own public purposes. Not surprisingly we


decided that what we needed were not secateurs, but heavy garden shears.


So we came to the view, keep it simple. Please, get back to the


simple Reithian mission, the three objectives to inform, educate and


entertain. And we were then encouraged by the right reverend,


the Bishop of Chelmsford, to add a fourth, to reflect. And the Bishop


has talked this afternoon about the need to reflect beliefs across the


country. And so our report says that the BBC should reflect, and I quote:


the front opinions, lifestyles, beliefs and values of the nations,


regions and diverse communities of the UK. I hope that the BBC will


take note of the recommendation to reflect the range of different


opinions across the UK. Because, if I may say so, I don't think they


have always done so. I have heard highly respected BBC commentators,


such as Nick Robinson, say that the BBC has sometimes been slow to


reflect public opinion on controversial subjects. And he


cited, for example, Europe and immigration. And I suspect this is


partly the result of a metropolitan bias in news reporting. How often


have we heard the anchorman or woman on the Today programme as they


introduced the weather forecast, it's raining over Broadcasting


House, what is it doing in the rest of the country? It was therefore


very encouraging when the committee went to visit the BBC at Media City


in Salford Quays. That move has been a great success, and not just for


the BBC, but also for the locality and the region. The same will be


true, I think, as the BBC extends its presence elsewhere, for example


in Cardiff. My Lords, the Government is looking at proposals on Charter


on your, so let me make a few points about that. It is right, as has been


said by many noble Lords, notably Mike Noble Lord Lord Fowler and Lord


Lester, who isn't in his place, it is right the BBC should be


independent and be seen to be independent -- my noble Lord, Lord


Fowler. Points have been raised about how the process by which


Charter renewal takes place, how that should happen. I've listened


very carefully to what has been said. And as I understand it, the


provisions of the BBC Charter and chartering you will will be put into


legislation in an act of Parliament and decided by Parliament. But I do


wonder if that would make the process more political. I wonder if


my noble friend Lord Fowler could imagine the kind of amendments and


who might move them that such a bill might attract. I look forward to


seeing what proposals the noble Lord, Lord Lester has, when he comes


forward with his proposed bill, and let's judge it when we see the


details of that. I want to come to the question of the licence fee now.


I would not want to see a repeat of last year's process which pushed


onto the BBC the cost of free licenses for the over-75s. And not


surprisingly this has led to calls for a more independent system of


setting the licence fee and our committee does indeed recommend one.


I'm not quite sure it is as straightforward as that. At the end


of the day, the level of the license fee has two reflect the scale and


disturb of the BBC. At least under the present regime, that will, at


the end of the day, be decided by the Government. But let us suppose


the Government were to adopt a process of licence fee settlement


along the lines of our report and it should be handed to an independent


body to make a recommendation, surely it should be factored into


that process a view or calculation of what efficiency savings are


required of the BBC. Every well-run organisation or company looks each


year at how it can run itself more efficiently and cut costs where it


can and the BBC should not be immune to that process. This brings me to


be tough choices which the management of the BBC have to


confront. They are faced with demands from the public for


extensive news and current affairs, loads of sport, top-class drama,


brilliant wildlife programmes, high-quality entertainment and


comedy, the arts and it goes on. The BBC has very little control over its


funding, so the demands made of the BBC in the new charter must be


realistic. Ambitious, but not over ambitious. In my opinion, the BBC


cannot do everything and mess the BBC are really prepared to pay for


it. Therefore, I don't think the BBC should always try to compete with


the commercial channels at every level, but that emphatically does


not mean that the BBC should confine itself to output which the market


will not provide, the so-called market failure model. It is not a


binary choice. What I want to see is market in Richmond. The BBC makes


programmes which inform, educate and entertain but which are distinctive


because of their high quality. They make programmes which are innovative


and break new ground and which are challenging. It has been mentioned


in the course of the debate programmes such as the great British


bake of and programmes made by the noble lord brag in our time which


are wonderful and brilliant programmes, so there are brilliant


programmes which the BBC can and does make and in the UK, we are


blessed with an abundance of creative people within the BBC and


the creative independent producers with the ideas, imagination and


expertise to conceive and make these programmes. They will go on doing


so, so long as the BBC have clear objectives, so long as the culture


and ethos of the BBC and courage is them, and so long as the BBC is not


swamped by an incomprehensible hierarchy of public purposes and we


met involving endless and pointless box ticking. So, give the BBC a new,


straightforward board structure. Appoint independent people at the


top, establish a clear regulatory framework and then, quite simply,


let them get on with the job. My Lords, it is good to hear all the


tributes to the committee and to its chair, the noble lord Lord Best, for


there really quite statesman-like and distinguished report. I thought


the way that Lord Best introduced the report had all the rings of


Reithian authoritative comment at its best. My Lords, the debate got


off to a good start because, of course, the report's introduction


was followed by the noble lord, Lord Fowler, and there has been no more


consistent and firm champion of the cause of the BBC in this House and


beyond than Lord Fowler. He doesn't only champion it, he analyses


situations, he underlines the strengths, he sees the challenges


and what is so important is he puts forward constructive remedies of how


the thing can be brought forward. He is no Greek chorus. He is an active


player who wants to engage in the whole dynamic of the future. My


Lords, I think there has also been something which has been very good


in this debate, the value of hearing from noble lord 's, as there are no


people that in the Parliamentary arena who have done more to advance


the cause not only of the arts, but also of bringing the arts to the


widest cross-section of people and if I am allowed to make a personal


reflection, I am constantly reminded in Cumbria where I live, how Lord


Bragg has found he had time to nurture the Keswick literary


festival. My Lords, Lord Puttnam, I thought, he was splendid, in the way


in which he underlined that if what we love about the BBC is to survive


and faster, its independence at the BBC is crucial. In that, the way in


which the governors are appointed and the chair appointed, is, of


course, is essential. We need to watch that very carefully indeed.


The report emphasised that they would like to add or put forward the


thought that the additional objective might be added to the BBC


mission and that is to reflect. Of course, the way in which they were


using reflect is that it must reflect society additives, the


generations of society, the nations that make the United Kingdom, and do


that really demonstrate with commitment. -- do that really


demonstrably. But reflect has two meanings, really. I hope that they


feel as strongly about the other dimension of reflect, which is to


stop, pause and consider and evaluate the society which we are


in. This I think is a two Mendis contribution the BBC can make.


Actually encouraging people to think about the world in which they are


living. -- this is a tremendous contribution the BBC can make. They


can see for themselves how they can becoming gauged in shaping this


world. In this context, I was also very bad that the report emphasised


unashamedly children. I can't help forgetting my up ringing. Children's


hour was a very important part of my upbringing, in my young days, and


not least because I was growing up in the wall with all the tensions


and stress and drama of war. How we waited for the drama on Thursday


nights and the next episode of the drama. Some children were asked


quite soon after television was coming in, in a very serious survey,


and they were asked, what do you prefer? Radio drama or television


drama? At that stage, the majority of the children who were asked said,


oh, radio drama. When asked why they said, because the pictures are


better. I wonder whether, with all our cameras and high-tech and the


rest, we are stimulating the agenda and imagination to quite the degree


to which radio children's programmes used to do certainly in the 1930s


and 40s. My Lords, if it's a stimulating amongst the young and


children's imagination and vision, we have to look at what it's


contributing to the children. What we are making available to the young


in the context of the crisis in our society itself. I almost literally


lose sleep about what is happening to our society is that the concept


of citizenship is withering, as consumerism takes over. Consumerism


fosters responsive attitudes in terms of personal needs, personal


aggrandisement and the rest. Citizenship demands thought and


participation. Without of course becoming propaganda agents, the BBC


has a unique opportunity to begin to introduce and effectively introduce


children to the importance of citizenship and to how they can


participate in citizenship and what the issues of citizenship are about.


When I was a member of Parliament, I had an inner-city constituency. I


made a point every year of going to visit every secondary school in my


constituency. It was not a cheering experience because, when I was


talking to people about the importance of participation in


politics, they would say, what is this, it's got nothing to do with


politics. I would say to them, does your family have any housing


problems? Do your families ever encounter medical problems? Do your


families have issues about education itself? And I was repeatedly told by


the youngsters, in words of one syllable, very bluntly sometimes,


that's got nothing to do with politics. That was some years ago


but I suspect that the situation is even worse today, with the


disillusionment in the political community. I think the BBC has got a


terrific opportunity to rehabilitate the elliptical context and quality


of our society -- political context and quality of our society. Also


within that, I think local radio has an important role to play. I can


speak warmly about radio Cumbria and the key part it has played into


terrible episodes of flooding in recent years, absolutely crucial to


the well-being and safety of the local people. It also has a


responsibility to link into local perceptions, local engagement. The


national issues, I was struck at the time of the last flooding, that it


almost coincided with the great conference in Paris. I thought it


was a terrific opportunity there to get people thinking about what was


being done in Paris and what the relevance of what was going on in


Paris had to their situation and the difficulties they were facing. I


think, there again, the role that the BBC can play openly must never


be underestimated, but it is not just reporting local crime and local


murders etc. It is easy to slip into that sort of preoccupation. It is


about taking the opportunity to stimulate a better neighbourhood


community understanding of how the world are really affecting them and


how they relate to them as a community.


I can't conclude without saying how happy I was with the World Service


and how important it was to me. As a young man, not infrequently, I found


myself in Bush house. It seemed to me that it had all the


characteristics of a unique university. It had a real sense of


community journalism, it shared experiences and that's, and a very


high level of analysis and thought about the issues before the world's


society. If we have run reality with which we all have do live, and I


really can't say how strongly I feel about this, if we have one reality


with which we all have two lives and it is so sad to see in Britain that


there are so many people, not least in the Westminster community, who


wish it wasn't true and want to run away from it, but the reality is


that from the moment we are born, we are locked into a world community.


We are utterly interdependent with the world. There is hardly a single


issue of significance which can be solved or resolved or dealt with


successfully on our own as a nation. It has to be doubt with in the


context of cooperation, participation in the wider world


community of which we are a part. Here I think the BBC not only in the


quality of thinking in Britain, in the contribution it makes, but in


the practicality of its link between the World Service, the National


Service, the regional servers, the local service, is in a strongly


placed position to ensure the quality of the future of our




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