Our Chief Executive Tim Bonner writes:

In May the Government announced that the BBC Trust would be abolished and that Ofcom would take over responsibility for regulating the BBC. Given our legitimate concerns about the BBC Trust’s role as a regulator and its failure to address the ‘metropolitan bias’ identified in its own review of rural programming we welcomed the news that Ofcom would in future deal with editorial complaints and hold the BBC to account with regard to impartiality and accuracy.

The devil, however, is in the detail and that detail is worrying. It has emerged that Ofcom will only regulate and consider editorial complaints relating to broadcast news and current public policy and will have no role in regulating the vast majority of BBC content (documentaries, drama, sport, BBC news online etc). In these areas the BBC will continue to police itself.

The role of Ofcom will be limited to regulating BBC impartiality and accuracy in broadcast news and current public policy as it does for other broadcasters a model which takes no account of the BBC’s unique position as a state funded broadcaster or the requirements of the new Charter which demand higher editorial standards than other broadcasters. This is despite the fact that the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee  and an independent report commissioned by the Government both recommended that Ofcom should regulate all of the BBC’s output.

Over the past year we have had a number of serious concerns about the BBC’s editorial standards and portrayal of rural communities. However, the majority of BBC output that we have complained about does not fall under broadcast news or public policy. These changes will will do nothing to alleviate concerns about some of the BBC’s output in the rural community and have the potential to make the situation significantly worse.

We have raised concerns about the proposed new Governance arrangements for the BBC in this Daily Mail article.


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