Responding to BBC Director General Tony Hall’s call for online polls of the public to be part of future changes to the BBC, Co-operative Party General Secretary Claire McCarthy said:

Tony Hall is right to suggest that ordinary viewers and listeners are key to safeguarding the BBC from political interference. However, his suggestion of an online poll of licence fee payers does not go far enough. Real accountability, rather than occasional consultation is what is required.

In the long-term, the only way to safeguard the BBC’s independence is by making the BBC fully answerable to licence fee payers rather than politicians or opaque quangos. Any proposed reforms to the BBC’s governance must incorporate a directly elected voice for audiences, staff and other key stakeholders, as well as recognising them as individual members of the Corporation, with commensurate rights and responsibilities. Such a model has the advantage of holding the BBC’s executive to account and providing a mechanism for viewers to input into the Corporation’s strategy, while safeguarding it from political and commercial pressures.

Through our ‘People’s BBC’ campaign, we are joining with partners in the trade union movement to promote this vision of a mutual, People’s BBC. Given Tony Hall’s comments, we look forward to convincing him, along with the current Secretary of State and others, of the merits of such an approach.