In one of the biggest public broadcasting shake-ups in the country, the British government has launched a major review into the future of the BBC.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) will undergo a fundamental review of its size, what it does and the way it is funded as part of a green paper launched in the House of Commons today.
“One key task is to assess whether the idea of universality still holds water. With so much more choice, we must at least question whether the BBC should try to be all things to all people,” said UK culture secretary John Whittingdale, the minister charged with the UK taxpayer’s licence fee-funded media corporation’s overhaul.
The BBC has already agreed to take on the cost of free TV licenses for the over 75s, in return for some concessions, including linking the license fee to inflation.
Today’s green paper also said responsibility for regulation of the BBC, currently handled by the BBC Trust, could be transferred to an external body.
The publication of the green paper will be followed by a public consultation, while the government’s review will be overseen by a panel of broadcasting experts, many of whom are thought to be critical of the BBC.
In response, the BBC said director-general Tony Hall would set out its own proposals in two months.
The corporation said in a statement, “The BBC is a creative and economic powerhouse for Britain. The starting point for any debate should be – how can a strong BBC benefit Britain even more at home and abroad?”
“The BBC has embraced change in the past and will continue to do so in the future, and we will set out our own proposals in September. We believe that this green paper would appear to herald a much diminished, less popular BBC. That would be bad for Britain and would not be the BBC that the public has known and loved for over 90 years.”
A host of celebrities, including Bond stars Daniel Craig and Judi Dench, have also come out in favour of a strong BBC in the last few days.