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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Role of chairman and governors
Michael Grade
Grade faces the challenging task of the BBC's charter renewal
Michael Grade leads the BBC's 12-strong board of governors in monitoring the corporation's activities on behalf of the public.

Michael Grade, who was appointed the new BBC chairman in April, is charged with restoring public confidence in the BBC following Lord Hutton's criticisms of its practices in his inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly.

Mr Grade's most crucial task, thus far, has been appointing the new director general Mark Thompson in the wake of Greg Dyke's resignation in January, following the publication of the Hutton report.

Mr Grade also looks set to adopt a strategic role in steering the BBC's longer-term future, beginning with renewal of the corporation's Royal Charter, which expires in 2006.

The chairman's role is not to run the BBC in a "hands-on" fashion day-to-day, and Mr Grade is expected to leave programme-making issues to the director general.

Mr Grade, a charismatic figure with many years of TV experience, will also be looked on to boost morale within the BBC, which was left bruised by the high-level resignations over Hutton.

Who are the BBC governors?

The governors' role has become one of the most contentious aspects of the BBC's operations over the last few years.

The Hutton Report criticised them for being too soft on the journalistic practices used in Andrew Gilligan's reporting of the Iraq weapons of mass destruction dossier.

In the wake of the report's publication, previous chairman Gavyn Davies resigned, saying those at the top of an organisation "should accept responsibility for what happens in that organisation".

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

The BBC governors
The BBC board of governors meet once a month
They ensure that the BBC is accountable to parliament, licence-fee payers and audiences - in particular they must ensure the BBC offers value for money.

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

They are usually appointed because of their experience in the arts, the public service and business.

The governors are part-time non-executive appointees who meet once a month, and hold the BBC's managers accountable for their performances.

Their support of the BBC's editorial policy over the coverage of the Iraqi weapons dossier was criticised by Lord Hutton.

Lord Hutton said the governors had failed to properly investigate the claims made by Andrew Gilligan in his Today programme report.

There have been calls for the governors' roles to be given to Ofcom, the new media watchdog set up in December. There has also been criticism that they are political appointees and not necessarily independent enough.

Gavyn Davies
Gavyn Davies resigned as the BBC's Chairman

Earlier this month the Institute of Public Policy Research said the governors should be made independent of the BBC's board of management, but drew short of recommending transferring its roles to Ofcom.

Under new rules, however, Ofcom has been given more power to hold the BBC accountable for viewers' or listeners' complaints. It can fine the BBC up to 250,000 for infringements.

The threat of fines has led to the BBC, for the first time, to introduce a "compliance form" for pre-recorded programmes, completed by editors or executive producers.

It draws attention to any content that may be contentious or offensive and details approvals sought from channel controllers, lawyers and other figures during a programme's development.

But the governors' roles could change further as the repercussions of the Hutton Report are felt.

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Lord Ryder of Wensum became vice-chairman of the BBC on 1 January 2002 for a four-year term. He is the former MP for mid-Norfolk and was government chief whip between 1990 and 1995, and retired from the House of Commons in 1997. He became acting BBC chairman on the resignation of Gavyn Davies, and later announced he would retire from the board later this year.

Baroness Sarah Hogg was appointed in February 2000 and is the only BBC governor with extensive experience in journalism, having worked for The Economist, The Times and the Daily Telegraph.

Sir Robert Smith was appointed as BBC National Governor for Scotland in August 1999. The former chartered accountant is currently vice chairman of Deutsche Asset Management and a director and chairman designate of The Weir Group.

Professor Fabian Monds has been the BBC National Governor for Northern Ireland since 1999 and was formerly Provost of Magee College and pro vice-chancellor for planning in the University of Ulster.

Professor Merfyn Jones is BBC National Governor for Wales, and is a historian and a regular broadcaster in both Welsh and English.

Ranjit Sondhi was appointed to the board as the Chairman of the English National Forum, the advisory body representing licence-payers throughout the English Regions, in August 1998.

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones has been a BBC Governor since January 1998 and was a member of the Diplomatic Service, later working for the Cabinet Office, the Joint Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Commonwealth Office until her retirement.

Dermot Gleeson was appointed a BBC Governor in November 2000 and is executive chairman of MJ Gleeson Group.

Angela Sarkis is an independent consultant with wide experience of voluntary organisations and the public sector, and was chief executive of the Church Urban Fund from 1996 to 2002.

Dame Ruth Deech was a Fellow and Tutor in Law at St Anne's College, Oxford, until she was elected principal of the College in 1991.

Deborah Bull has been a governor since August 2003, and had a 20-year career with The Royal Ballet until 2001, reaching the rank of principal dancer in 1992.


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