BBC White Paper: 8 Things The Public Broadcaster Could Be Made To Stop Doing Amid Royal Charter Review

Online recipes for one thing.

09/05/2016 19:33 | Updated 12 May 2016

The government is about to set out how it wants to change the BBC amid huge tension between the broadcaster and ministers.

The BBC is reportedly furiously lobbying to oppose changes it sees as undermining its independence and compromising its editorial and programming ahead of Thursday, when the Government is expected to announce its White Paper that sets out how it wants to change the corporation.

The White Paper on charter renewal has already prompted outrage. 

At Sunday's BAFTA TV awards, Peter Kosminksy, the director and the corporation's acclaimed drama Wolf Hall, used his acceptance speech to warn that the government's plans were "scary stuff".

"It’s not their BBC, it’s your BBC. In many ways our broadcasting - the BBC and also Channel 4, which they’re also trying to eviscerate - is the envy of the world and we should stand up and fight for it," Kosminsky told the audience.

"I think most people would agree that the BBC’s main job is to speak truth to power, to report to the British public without fear or favour.

"It’s a public broadcaster independent of government, not a state broadcaster. All of this is under threat right now.”

Ian Hislop, Private Eye editor and Have I Got News For You captain, said: "The BBC have allowed Have I Got News For You to be rude about governments... and rude about the BBC, which is a privilege you are given with public service broadcasting and not on state television."

The Culture Secretary recently joked that abolishing the BBC was "a tempting prospect".

MP David Lammy called said the Government was "bullying", adding there was "unprecedented bad blood" between them and the BBC.

Here are eight things the White Paper could be about to stop the BBC from doing.

  • Keep a huge vault of online recipes
    According to The Telegraph, the BBC could be made to axe nearly all of the more than 11,000 recipes on its website as part of a drive to clamp down on services provided elsewhere.
    Only recipes linked to recently broadcast shows will remain, the paper said.
  • Do lighter news stories
    BBC News
    BBC News' domestic online coverage has been criticised for competing unfairly with under-pressure local newspapers. Lord Hall is expected to pledge to cut the lighter news items and commit the corporation to focussing more on video and a "core news service", according to The Telegraph.
    The paper quoted a speech by BBC Trust member Richard Ayre, who said the BBC should ditch "the magazine content, the celebrity gossip, the skateboarding ducks, the games and the puzzles to other providers, who frankly can do it just as well, or better”.
  • Make entertainment programmes deemed not 'value for money'
    Katja Ogrin/EMPICS Entertainment
    Flagship entertainment shows like Strictly Come Dancing (live tour pictured) and dramas like The Night Manager could be subject to 'value for money' audits, The Guardian reported.
  • Give people travel information
    You can still go to the Highways Agency website or, er, Google Maps, to find out what the traffic is like.
  • Schedule flagship entertainment at the time flagship entertainment is normally shown
    Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
    The White Paper will suggest the BBC should stop showing popular programmes at peak times, The Sunday Times has reported. This followed a ratings war with ITV when the BBC put Strictly Come Dancing on at the same time as The X Factor. John Whittingdale has also suggested the News At Ten could be shown at a different time to avoid a clash with the commercial rival.
  • Not tell you exactly how much its top talent earns
    Matt Crossick/PA Wire
    Household names like chat show host Graham Norton (pictured) could have their salaries published, as the plans include releasing details of everyone paid more than £150,000 a year. This would include people in news and current affairs, as well as those in light entertainment.
  • Keep the licence fee to itself
    Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
    The £3.7 billion the BBC collects in licence fee payments could be shared with other broadcasters in some areas, such as children's television. This so-called 'top slicing' has triggered "a panicked and furious" lobbying effort from the BBC, The Telegraph reported.
  • Regulate itself
    Adrian Dennis/PA Wire
    The BBC Trust (chair Rona Fairhead pictured) looks set to be abolished and replaced with a BBC Board and regulation would be handed to media watchdog Ofcom. The board's chair and vice-chair would be government appointees. In a speech in April, journalist and broadcaster Phil Harding said this would put the BBC on "the slippery slope towards becoming a state broadcaster". 
    He said: "The people who are supposed to safeguard the editorial independence of the BBC – to safeguard it from, among other things, government interference – are going to be appointed by the same government that they are supposed to be protecting the BBC from."
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