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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 March 2006, 17:30 GMT
BBC is 'given vote of confidence'
Mark Thompson
The director general is set to tackle the licence fee settlement next
The White Paper on the future of the BBC is "a massive vote of confidence" in the corporation, BBC director general Mark Thompson has said.

"It's a near-definitive government view of the BBC over the next 10 years," he told the BBC's Nick Higham.

"It's a blueprint for an independent BBC, a leader in technology and new services."

He said it was a "challenge to ensure we're just as relevant in 10 years' time as we are today".

The director general welcomed the replacement of the BBC's board of governors by a new body, the BBC Trust, as suggested in the Green Paper a year ago.

"It is a much clearer system and, overall, a better system... ultimately, the Trust will be sovereign. What they say goes," he said.

Outside help

While some critics said the Trust was just the board of governors under another name, there was "quite a big difference", he added, saying the difference was much clearer.

The Trust will "hold the BBC to account" and ensure "it delivers on public purposes and value to the licence payer", he said.

The executive board will have non-executive directors for the first time.

"Skilled people from outside will improve decision-making," Mr Thompson said.

'Long overdue'

The fact that the BBC Trust would make decisions about new BBC services rather than the secretary of state was a "big improvement".

Discussion over the licence fee settlement would begin in the coming weeks, he said.

BBC Chairman Michael Grade echoed Mr Thompson's enthusiasm.

"On behalf of the BBC, I welcome the White Paper because the structural changes it demands will ensure the continuing independence of the BBC," he said.

"The new governance model lays on the Trust a duty to represent the interests of the licence-fee payers both as paymasters of the BBC and as consumers with an interest in wider choice.

"An overhaul of the BBC's governance to a modern structure that serves the licence fee paying public is long overdue."



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