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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK
The BBC's watchdogs
BBC News Online explains the role of the BBC chairman and the board of governors.

It is the job of the BBC's 12-member board of governors to monitor the BBC's activities on behalf of the public.

The governors are appointed by the Queen in Council and they appoint the BBC's director general and other senior management.

Out-going chairman of the board Sir Christopher Bland was appointed in 1996 by the Queen but on the advice of then Prime Minister John Major.

Gavyn Davies
Davies took over as vice-chairman in January 2001
The governors ensure that the BBC is accountable to parliament, licence-fee payers and audiences - in particular they must ensure the BBC offers value for money.

The BBC governors oversee the corporation's editorial independence and also have the power to investigate viewer or listener complaints.

They are selected for their range of experience and interests in public service and the arts, business and industry.

Defunct

The governors are part-time non-executive appointees - they do not get involved in the day-to-day running of the corporation.

They meet monthly and hold BBC managers to account for their performance.

The chairman, who works four days a week and earns a salary of 77,590, chairs meetings and acts on the governors' behalf in emergencies.

He is the only member of the board to sit on the panel which recommends new governors to the government and Queen.

In March a committee of MPs led Gerald Kaufman - set up to advise the Culture Secretary Chris Smith - recommended that the BBC board of governors be stripped of its powers.

The BBC is exempt from regulation under the proposed new communications watchdog Ofcom, except for listener complaints.

The committee criticised the fact that the board of governors and its chair are political appointees, the implication being that they are not necessarily neutral.

Sir Christopher has remained with the BBC until the appointment of the new chairman.

The new chairman will see plenty of changes in the broadcasting industry. Five regulatory bodies are due to be merged to form the new super watchdog Ofcom -the Independent Television Commission, Oftel, Broadcasting Standards Commission, Radio Authority and Radiocommunications Agency.

The chair's appointment has been a matter for the government, who directly advise the Queen.

The last appointment made to the board of governors was Gavyn Davies to the vice-chairman position in December 2000.

The government was accused of cronyism at the time as Mr Davies - an OBE and multi-millionaire economist - is a close friend and advisor of Gordon Brown.

He chaired the review of BBC future funding in 1999 that suggested an additional licence fee for digital television.

See also:

26 Apr 01 | Business
Vallance resigns from BT
26 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
BBC chairman to step down
11 Jan 01 | Entertainment
BBC's Hall takes top opera job
25 Apr 01 | Wales
BBC: Robinson jibes not racist
16 Jan 01 | Entertainment
BBC appoints new ethnic ambassador
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