The BBC is so much a part of many of our lives. I regularly wake up with Farming Today on Radio 4 (indeed I used to present it). With my background in journalism and broadcasting, I take a special interest in this area and I will be following the forthcoming discussion and debate with interest.
The dramatic speed with which the media landscape has changed since the last Royal Charter review ten years ago means it is necessary that we ask hard questions and take difficult decisions to ensure that the BBC is fit for purpose and remains an international benchmark for television, radio, online and journalism. In a country where today, 62 per cent of all programmes accessed online are watched using the BBC's iPlayer, it is right to review how the Charter is working and ask whether the BBC needs greater help in this highly multi-media world.
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport’s reforms are intended to modernise the BBC to enable it to rival the fast-growing online watching platforms. The BBC’s independence will not be under threat. Rather, the majority of the members of the new unitary board will be appointed by the BBC, with the nations and regions members being elected by Government. Furthermore, the position of the director-general as editor-in-chief is strengthen. This will not only make the BBC more accountable but will also provide it with greater independence.
In an increasingly tumultuous world, the World Service is playing an important role in the UK’s ability to lead the world in terms of soft power and influence. But it needs help. Within the new charter, the Government will provide an additional £85 million funding to keep the BBC – and Britain – standing tall on the world stage. Maintaining and increasing our commitment to the world was something I have particularly spoken up for.
The Government's proposals are intended to ensure that the BBC continues to thrive, providing high quality distinctive programmes, delivering value for money and acting as an engine for growth and creativity in every part of the UK.