The current BBC Royal Charter expires at the end of 2016 and, despite the fact that formal negotiations of the Charter Renewal have yet to begin, discussions, arguments and opinions are already rife as to what the new Charter should look like.
The BBC serves the public interest through the promotion of its six public purposes. To this end, the Committee intends to investigate what should be the public purposes of the BBC.
The Committee invites the submission of written evidence to be received by 30 September 2015 (this is an extension to the original deadline). The Committee expects to hear oral evidence from invited witnesses from July to November 2015. The Committee intends to report in February or March 2016. Reports are made for the information of the House but may also make recommendations. The Government has undertaken to respond in writing to reports from select committees.
Committee Chairman, Lord Best, said:
"The public purposes of the BBC cut right to the heart of what the organisation is for. They were introduced ten years ago during the last charter negotiations and the Committee feel that, in the light of industry, cultural and technological developments, it is the right time to review them.
"Much excellent work has already been done on the BBC's future, but we want to delve further into two issues that we believe to be strongly connected: what exactly are the fundamental purposes of the BBC; and is there a better way of setting the licence fee whilst also ensuring the BBC's independence?
"Whilst the Committee is hoping to hear from relevant organisations such as trade unions, industry groups, academics and commentators and other broadcasters, I would also encourage others with expertise or an interest in these aspects of the BBC and its Charter Renewal to submit evidence to our inquiry."
Issues the Committee will be considering as part of its inquiry include:
- Are public purposes are the best way to judge/analyse the BBC's performance?
- What is the process by which the public purposes are set and, if they need to be amended, what process would be appropriate within the current Charter Renewal?
- What are the pros and cons of the current purposes – how are they measured?
- What is the current process for the settlement decision in 2017 and what alternative mechanisms exist for setting the licence fee; and what are their advantages and disadvantages?