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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 15:26 GMT
Meet the Panel
Panorama stages a debate on the future of the BBC. Gavin Esler introduces leading figures from inside and outside broadcasting and asks them for their views.

You can take part in the discussion by sending us your views. You can e-mail us here on the website at any time. And during the programme, we'll give you details of how you can join the debate by mobile phone text message or for digital viewers via the red button.

Mark Byford


Title: Acting Director General of the BBC

Career: Mark Byford was the BBC's Deputy Director General until the resignation of his predecessor Greg Dyke in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry report.

Mr Byford said the BBC must learn from mistakes highlighted by Lord Hutton and then move on. He has pledged that the BBC will offer accurate, fair, objective and impartial journalism under his leadership and is currently leading an investigation into the BBC's editorial procedures due to report in June.

The 45-year-old is a former director of World Service and has spent his whole career at the BBC, having joined in 1979 soon after graduating in law at the University of Leeds. Greg Dyke described him as "passionate about public service broadcasting and the BBC's role in the UK and around the world."

Mr Elstein: BBC must be freed up

Title: Chairman, Broadcasting Policy Group

Career: David Elstein's policy group published a study for the Conservative Party two weeks ago which called for the breaking up of the BBC and the phasing out of the licence fee.

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He was responsible for the launch of Channel 5 but left his post as Chief Executive in 2000 and now works as a consultant as well as being Chairman of the British Screen Advisory Council. He was head of Programming at BSkyB in the mid 1990s and has also worked in current affairs at both the BBC and ITV.

Elstein's vision of a BBC competing in the commercial sector has been criticised by both ITV and Channel Four. The Conservative Party has also distanced itself from his findings, saying they would consider his recommendations but would not be bound by them.


Title: Naturalist and Broadcaster

Career: David Attenborough condemned as "grovelling" the apology made by the BBC's acting Chairman of the Board of Governors, Lord Ryder in the wake of the Hutton report.

He held a series of senior BBC posts in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including controller of BBC Two and Director of Programmes. In recent years he has criticised the BBC for chasing ratings and not doing enough arts and music programming.

Sir David's natural history programmes including Life on Earth, Blue Planet and Life of Mammals have made his face one of the best known on British television. His broadcasting and work for the environment have brought him countless awards and honours including Fellowship of the Royal Society.


Title: Chairman, Endemol UK

Career: Peter Bazalgette produced Big Brother for Channel Four and BBC programmes including Ground Force, Changing Rooms and Ready Steady Cook.

He is a keen defender of the BBC saying "a publicly funded, independent news organisation that can investigate the government is the purest expression of democracy". But he has called for a stronger Board of Governors with more broadcasting industry expertise.

Mr Bazalgette began his career at the BBC, working on That's Life before breaking new ground by devising the long-running lifestyle programme, Food and Drink. He welcomes multi-channel television as putting the viewer in charge. He hates the term "dumbing down", saying anyone using it should be locked in a darkened room for a couple of years.


Title: Editor, Guardian Unlimited

Career: Emily Bell has been editor-in-chief of the Guardian's online operations for the last three years, helping to create one of the internet's most successful and popular newspaper websites.

She has praised the BBC's online news service as setting standards for the industry but is concerned that the sheer scale and resources of the BBC's operation threatens to smother its rivals. The Guardian website has recently been testing subscription services to recover some of its operating costs.

Emily Bell joined Guardian Unlimited from its sister paper, the Observer where she worked for 11 years as Advertising Correspondent, Media Business Editor and finally as Business Editor. She has criticised the make up of the BBC Board of Governors as lacking knowledge and experience of the broadcasting industry.


Title: Managing Director, 4Learning

Career: Heather Rabbatts was awarded the CBE in the 2000 New Year's Honours List after transforming the struggling London borough of Lambeth when she was Chief Executive from 1995-2000, following stints with Hammersmith and Fulham and Merton councils.

She founded iMPOWER, a consultancy that helps public sector organisations improve their strategies, and was on the BBC's Board of Governors from 1999-2001, before stepping down to take up her current position as the head of Channel 4's education division.

Ms Rabbatts is also a London School of Economics Lay Governor, a non-executive Director on the Court of the Bank of England and a UK Film Council board member.

Production team:
Presenter: Gavin Esler
Producers: Eleanor Plowden, Sam Woodhouse
Deputy Editors: Andrew Bell, Sam Collyns
Editor: Mike Robinson

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05 Mar 04  |  Panorama


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