February 27, 2004

Frost Hits the Rhubarb

Something to Consider for the CBC

Why we would scrap the BBC licence fee and its governors David Elstein, Feb. 25, 04

[. . . . ] The BBC's Charter expires at the end of 2006. [. . . .]

[The Broadcasting Policy Group] report would replace the antiquated governance structure with a unified board of executive and non-executive directors, accountable to external regulators, Parliament and the BBC's viewers and listeners: no room for ministers there. This model already works for Channel 4, a successful public service broadcaster. There is no reason why it should not work for the BBC.

We would create a new body – a Public Broadcasting Authority – to look after public service content, which it would draw from a range of suppliers, in a way that would insulate any particular broadcaster from ministerial wrath and retribution. This would eliminate the unwieldy, uneconomic and unsatisfactory indirect mechanisms for delivering public service content that have been steadily failing for many years.

We would replace the licence fee progressively with subscription as the primary source of BBC funding. The problems with the licence fee are well known. It is inflexible, inefficient and inequitable – even iniquitous – in its impact on the poorest households. It provides no accountability on the part of the BBC, and delivers no useful information on the part of the audience.

[. . . . ] The author is chairman of the Broadcasting Policy Group, whose report is available free at www.beyondthecharter.com


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