BBC White Paper 2016 Statement Sees John Whittingdale Reveal Changes Public Broadcaster Will Face

So-long free iPlayer.

12/05/2016 14:47
John Whittingdale published his long-anticipated White Paper after delivering a statement on it to MPs earlier on Thursday

John Whittingdale has laid out sweeping changes to the BBC, with upheavals to the broadcaster's news output, funding and regulation. 

The culture secretary revealed a raft of measures today, designed to put pressure on the broadcaster to increase its distinctiveness amid criticism that it looked and sounded too much like its TV and radio rivals.

Here are the 6 sweeping changes - confirmed so far- to what you'll see on the BBC of the future.

1. Less music, more talk

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Radio 1, Britain's most popular music radio station, has been told to play less popular music and air more documentaries instead.

Whittingdale's White Paper criticised the station for performing a "relatively modest public service" and complained that popular songs were played too often while documentaries were consigned to the margins of the schedule. 

That despite its own admission that Radio 1 broke acts including Adele, Sam Smith and Coldplay by playing their tracks first. 

2. 'Skateboarding duck' stories culled


Lighter news is facing the axe. A market impact report referenced in today's White Paper confirms a “shift ... away from ‘softer’ news stories towards more in-depth analysis and explanation”.

BBC executives have agreed to reduce their magazine-style content, Richard Ayre, a Trust member, telling the Telegraph that the BBC should “leave 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”.

3. Staff's salaries revealed

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The likes of Gary Lineker, Graham Norton and Chris Evans will likely be forced to divulge how much they're being paid by Auntie. 

On-screen personalities earning over £450,000 will be subject to the transparency drive, although the original figure was thought to have been substantially lower - around £150,000 - and would have subjected newsreaders Fiona Bruce and Huw Edwards to the new rule. 

The move will make the BBC's best talent and highest-earners more susceptible to defections to rival broadcasters, who will be able to offer more competitive rates. 

4. iPlayer loophole plugged

Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

The work-around that meant millions of Brits could watch and listen to BBC services without having to pay the licence fee will be changed, Whittingdale also confirmed. 

The culture secretary said people who watched catch-up services on the iPlayer website would be subject to the licence fee charge too.

He also said Brits should be able to watch their favourite TV shows abroad, by making iPlayer content "portable" and requiring "verification" from users to the site that they had paid the licence fee.

5. No more in-house regulation

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The BBC will no longer look to its governing body, the Trust, to regulate it. Instead, the White Paper revealed, the broadcaster will come under the remit of Ofcom. 

It means that any complaints about programming will be directed to the independent regulator, rather than simply left for the BBC to manage and adjudicate on itself.

6. Charter renewal 'depoliticised'

Negotiations over the BBC's future would be scheduled to take place every 11 years, rather than ten, Whittingdale confirmed. 

The move would make sure charter renewal discussions did not always fall during the same point in the election cycle to avoid the issue being politicised.

Nick Ansell/PA Wire
The BBC is about to reach the end of its current royal charter and needs a new one

Whittingdale also made an important announcement ruling out government intervention in the BBC's decision for when to schedule TV programmes. 

It was originally reported that his White Paper would tell the broadcaster to stop showing popular programmes at peak times to avoid clashing with rival broadcasters vying for viewers. 

But speaking today, the culture secretary assured MPs that the government-picked people to sit on the new governing board would have"no involvement in editorial decision making".

"The Director-General remains the editor-in-chief. He is responsible for editorial matters," Whittingdale said. 

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