MPs may support scrapped BBC Trust20 January 2015
MPs on the Conservative-led culture, media and sport select committee are expected to recommend the closure of the BBC Trust. Chaired by Rona Fairhead, the Trust is the regulatory body for the BBC, consisting of 12 Trustees with the purpose of ensuring the BBC delivers its mission to ‘inform, educate and entertain’.
The committee, chaired by Conservative MP John Whittingdale, will publish its report on the BBC in the coming weeks, and it is expected it will support the view that the organisation should be replaced by a board of executive and non-executive directors, overseen by a chairman.
The Trust is separate from the executive board which is led by the director-general, Tony Hall. The executive board is responsible for the operational delivery of BBC services and the direction of BBC editorial and creative output in line with the framework set by the Trust. The Trust works to ensure the BBC is value for money for license payers and sets the strategic objectives for the Corporation.
The BBC Trust has previously come under fire for its handling of the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal, and in 2012 former BBC governor for Wales said the BBC Trust should be scrapped after a scathing report found the corporation “completely incapable” of dealing with the Savile affair. Pay-offs to BBC senior managers have also been criticised: in 2013 it was reported that the BBC paid £25 million to 150 outgoing senior executives between 2009 and 2012, £2 million more than its contracts stipulated.
The select committee has spent months hearing evidence from a range of individuals, including Hall. However, the outcome may not be wholly negative for the Corporation, as it is thought that the committee will support the continuation of the license fee. Alternatives to the board of directors model include transferring the Trust’s powers to Ofcom or adopting a funding strategy similar to Germany’s public service broadcasting model.