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Lord Birt to give evidence on BBC charter renewal

Continuing with its inquiry into the BBC and its public purposes, the House of Lords' Communications Committee will question Lord Birt, former Director General of the BBC, on Tuesday 14 July.

Lord Birt said, after a statement in the House reporting that the BBC had agreed to cover the cost of free TV licences, that it was a “truly shocking announcement”, and that the independence of the BBC “was breached in the previous Parliament … This has happened again. This is taking a huge slice out of the BBC's budget. Again, it has happened with no public discussion of any kind. This Government and the previous Government have set a very dangerous precedent.”

The Committee will question Lord Birt at 4.30pm, when he will appear alongside Diane Coyle, former member and Vice-Chair of the BBC Trust.

Issues that will be discussed include:

  • their involvement in the process of developing the public purposes, and the benefits and drawbacks of using this system to measure performance;
  • how the BBC can ensure it still delivers, or satisfies, public purposes, if it is to cut services or move them from broadcast to online;
  • how the public purposes work to safeguard the future position of the BBC; and
  • the process by which the licence fee settlement has been reached.

Beforehand, at 3.30pm, the Committee will hear from the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), and Simone Pennant, founder and Director of TV Collective.

The Committee will explore with the witnesses issues including how well the BBC is meeting the public purposes; should the purposes be changed; if there are any areas/genres of particular concern, and whether they feel that cuts to the BBC would have a detrimental impact in the fulfilment of the public purposes.
The evidence session will take place from 3.30pm, on Tuesday 14 July in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords.

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