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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 11:55 GMT
New regulation plans for BBC
Gavyn Davies
Gavyn Davies was appointed chairman in September 2001
BBC chairman Gavyn Davies has outlined plans to change the way the corporation is regulated, including formalising a relationship with the proposed new communications watchdog Ofcom.

The changes are intended to clarify the system, increase its accountability to the public and to satisfy calls from the commercial sector for the BBC to be placed under the aegis of Ofcom.

Many commercial broadcasters have said it would be unfair for the BBC to sit outside Ofcom's regulatory powers, which will act as a watchdog for viewers' interests and ensure channels keep their promises.

The BBC is currently regulated by a board of governors, chaired by Mr Davies.

Last year, members of the House of Commons' Culture Committee said they wanted the BBC to be fully regulated by Ofcom, which would oversee broadcasting and telecommunications services.


The four main areas of reform outlined by Mr Davies are:

  • Greater clarity about who does what on the BBC executive committee and board of governors
  • More focus from the governors on the BBC's public service remit
  • Greater openness and accountability
  • Proper support for governors to fulfil their responsibilities

    "One of the prime responsibilities of the board of governors is to keep its own house in order, ensuring that its procedures are suited to leading the modern BBC in a rapidly changing regulatory environment," said Mr Davies.

    Mr Davies said that the government's intention to create Ofcom, as part of the Communications White Paper, has given the BBC's commercial competitors the opportunity to argue for profound changes to BBC governance and "marginalise the BBC's role".

    He said that concerns were based on "profound misunderstandings" about how the BBC will relate to Ofcom.

    "The BBC has no desire to stand aloof and separate from the new regulator. We welcome the proposed establishment of Ofcom and look forward to working with it," he said.

    Mr Davies pointed out that the BBC would be regulated by Ofcom in several key areas, including economic regulation, taste and decency issues and quotas on regional, independent and original production.

    Ofcom, unveiled in the Communications White Paper in December 2000, will deliver a "lighter touch" with broadcasters regulating themselves on many issues.

    Formal relationship

    Mr Davies said the only difference between BBC regulation and the regulation of commercial broadcasters would be that the final "back-stop" powers will rest with Ofcom for commercial broadcasters and the culture secretary for the BBC.

    The chairman said the BBC would formalise a relationship with Ofcom in an agreement with the culture secretary.

    Mr Davies pledged:

  • A new framework for setting and monitoring BBC objectives as published in the corporation's annual report
  • The publication of a first Statements of Programme Policy for all services
  • A new Governance and Accountability department to provide the governors with more independent sources of advice and support
  • Clear separation on complaints handling by moving initial programme complaints from the governors' staff to a management department

    The BBC hopes to implement the changes in the near future.

  • Talking PointFORUM
    Put your questions to Gavyn DaviesBBC chairman
    Quiz Gavyn Davies about the corporation
    See also:

    26 Feb 02 | TV and Radio
    Davies' vision of BBC's future
    01 Oct 01 | TV and Radio
    Gavyn Davies starts BBC job
    31 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
    Ofcom 'could fine BBC'
    15 Mar 01 | UK Politics
    MPs want more BBC regulation
    19 Sep 01 | UK Politics
    Tories attack new BBC choice
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