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Hall welcomes BBC charter

BBC director general Tony Hall has broadly welcomed a draft version of the royal charter that will set out the pubcaster’s operations over the next 11 years.

BBC chief Tony Hall

BBC chief Tony Hall

The BBC has been locked in discussions with the UK government for the past 18 months over the details of the charter, with concerns it could force new scheduling regulations, restrictions on programming and further cuts to budgets.

However Hall said the draft agreement “lays the foundation for more great programmes and journalism.

“Overall, we have the right outcome for the BBC and its role as a creative power for Britain. The BBC has always existed to inform, educate, and entertain. We will do that with renewed energy and vigour.”

Details of the draft charter were revealed yesterday and include clauses that will require the BBC to publish details of those earning over £150,000 (US$200,000) a year. Presenters working for production companies, such as talker host Graham Norton, are set to be excluded however.

Hall said the BBC “operates in a competitive market and this will not make it easier for the BBC to retain the talent the public love. Ultimately, the BBC should be judged on the quality of its programmes.”

Other changes include doing away with governing body the BBC Trust and replacing it with a 14-person Unitary Board, with five government-appointed members.

The National Audit Office will also now look at the BBC’s accounts, including those of commercial arm BBC Worldwide, while ‘distinctive content’ has been demanded and the charter itself will now last 11 years rather than 10.

“This hard won charter is now an opportunity to write the next chapter in the BBC’s history,” Hall added. “It will deliver the strong and creative BBC the public believes in. It provides an 11-year charter and a licence fee guaranteed for 11 years. It endorses the remit, scale and scope of the BBC, and backs it as a great British institution.”

Some TV insiders blasted the proposed reforms earlier this year, while others, including UK producers’ trade group Pact, have said the changes will benefit the wider market.

After replacing John Whittingdale as UK culture secretary this summer, Matthew Hancock said in his first week in the job that fellow UK pubcaster Channel 4 could still be privatised, despite widespread reports that the government had decided not to go ahead with the proposed move.

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