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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 18:46 GMT
At a glance: BBC White Paper
The BBC's future role, function and structure have been set out in a White Paper published by the government. Here are the main points:


  • The six new public purposes for the BBC are sustaining citizenship and civil society; promoting education and learning; stimulating creativity and cultural excellence, including film; reflecting the UK's nations, regions and communities; bringing the world to the UK and the UK to the world and acting as a "trusted guide" in building a digital Britain.

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  • The BBC should offer services that are entertaining and popular, while not being derivative or merely chasing ratings, or making programmes solely to tried and tested formulae.

  • All BBC content should be at least one of the following things - high quality, challenging, original, innovative and engaging.

  • The BBC should invest in new films and support for Britain's film culture by helping audiences to understand and have access to a wide range of British and international films.

  • Mainstream programmes should portray and celebrate the diversity of cultures and communities across the UK.


  • The licence fee will stay in place and there will be no change to the existing range of licence fee concessions.

  • The government will consider proposals to divert non-paying offenders from the criminal justice system, meaning evaders may no longer be threatened with jail.

  • The government will examine alternative ways of funding the BBC - such as subscriptions - by the end of the next charter in 2016.

  • Around 2012, the government will consider the case for public funding - including licence fee money - to be distributed more widely beyond the BBC.

  • The government will consider whether to ask the BBC to provide funding for Channel 4, another public service broadcaster, as financial pressures increase in the future.


  • The BBC governors will be abolished and replaced by two new bodies - the BBC Trust and executive board.

  • The Trust is intended to regulate the BBC's activities on behalf of the licence fee payer. It will have the final say in any disputes with management and include members to represent the interests of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • The executive board will run the corporation's activities and be chaired by the director general, with "a significant minority" of non-executives to act as "critical friends".

  • This separation between the Trust and the executive board will underline accountability and transparency, and remove the potential conflict of interest in the role of the current governors "as both champion and judge of the BBC management".


  • Each BBC service will have its own service licence setting out information such as its aims and objectives, target audience and budget.

  • Service licences will come under "periodic review" by the BBC Trust but the Trust can undertake a special review if it suspects it is not living up to its licence.

  • Proposals for significant changes to existing services or new services will be subject to a public value test.

  • This test will weigh up the public value against how much impact it will have on commercial rivals.

  • It will judge the advantages the service will give the licence fee payer, society as a whole and whether it will deliver value for money - or whether it would be better to block the service and reduce the licence fee instead.

  • Media regulator Ofcom will be responsible for providing a market impact assessment to examine how much any new service will hurt commercial broadcasters - but the BBC Trust will have the final say.


  • The BBC should continue to play a leading role in technological development and guiding the public through periods of change.

  • The BBC will be at the forefront of making the switch from analogue to digital TV by 2012. It must help inform the public of the switch and provide "practical help" for those aged over 75 and with severe disabilities.

  • This will involve providing the necessary equipment and assistance for free to the poorest households and for a "modest fee" to others.

  • The BBC must continue to invest in and promote DAB digital radio.


  • Independent producers and in-house departments will compete for the right to make a certain amount of BBC programmes.

  • This is "the best way of ensuring that the best programmes reach the screen", the White Paper said.

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