Responding to today’s White Paper on the Future of the BBC, Co-operative Party General Secretary Claire McCarthy said:
Today’s announcement on the BBC represents a missed opportunity to deliver the fundamental change necessary to secure it for the long term. The Paper conflates questions of regulation and accountability, leaving the BBC in the hands of unaccountable regulators and appointees, and questions over the BBC’s ownership, democratic deficit and independence unresolved.
Everyone agrees that BBC must be more accountable to those who pay for it. But measures such as the publication of senior staff salaries are no more than window dressing as long as power lies with a Board which the government and BBC are able to pack with carefully selected appointees.
The White Paper’s plans to increase diversity, additional funding for the World Service and its move to an 11-year charter period are all welcome. But this misses the point. These kinds of decisions should lie in the hands of those who watch and use the BBC’s services and be subject to democratic scrutiny. Instead, they are the product of opaque negotiations between ministers and senior BBC staff, lacking formal input from parliament or licence fee payers.
The Co-operative Party, via our People’s BBC campaign, will continue to make the case for a BBC that is genuinely accountable and independent. We believe that both objectives can only truly be met by giving those who own the BBC – its viewers, staff and listeners – democratic control over the Corporation and a voice of their own in the rooms where decisions are made.