David Miliband suggests the British Broadcasting Co-op


Cushioning the heavy blow of the Vince Cable’s announcement that Northern Rock is not to be remutualised, came David Miliband and Tessa Jowell’s call for the BBC to become co-operatively owned and run.

In a joint blog post on the Progress website, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and the former Cabinet Office Minister called for a reformed system in which BBC license fee payers could become ‘members’ with the right to elect a Council that would in turn elect a majority of those who run the corporation’s Trust.

The Co-operative Party have long argued that the Beeb should be converted into a mutual organization, owned and controlled by both license fee payers and the Government. Indeed, it was a key plank of our manifesto back in 2005, and made a reappearance for this year’s General Election.

Public trust in the BBC remains sky-high, and the broadcaster is rightly envied and imitated all across the world. As a broadcaster of drama, news and entertainment it is still without equal. However, there are issues surrounding democratic accountability and there is – whether justified or not – a perception that the organization can at times appear aloof and unresponsive to the people that it is supposed to serve.

A mutual model could do much to strengthen the key relationship between the British people and the corporation. By giving the public a real stake in the decision making process, the BBC could improve its image whilst offering viewers a real stake in the way our public service broadcaster is run.

While the Liberal-Tory Coalition is heartlessly putting the sword to public services and reneging on high-profile manifesto pledges, it is good to see senior Labour figures – in the best traditions of our shared movement – making the case for co-operative values, and learning from the Co-operative Party’s policies.