Reviewing the BBC's Royal Charter

A response to a Department of Culture, Media and Sport Consultation

Reviewing the BBC's Royal Charter: The Future of BBC

·         Comments on the Secretary of State's introduction


he Secretary of State (right) describes the BBC as a "unique" institution and that it is "unique" in the people's affections. Further she states that the public "trusts" the BBC because she says the BBC is a "benchmark of quality, integrity and diversity".

These are very bold assumptions that may be true but really ought to be substantiated. It is not enough to make assumptions of this magnitude in order to justify a belief in a "strong BBC".

Moreover, we do wonder why "the public has a chance to shape the BBC's role" only because the communications revolution is gathering pace. Why cannot this be a continuing process?

We also wonder how the creation of a single regulator will, on its own, ensure that highest standards of broadcasting content are retained.

We note that the Department of Culture, Media & Sport has organised a series of public meetings in different parts of the UK. We believe that such meetings are essential and there should have been many more than six if the public is to have a chance of putting their views to ministers. We note that the meeting in York attracted only around 60 people and that only a few days notice was given.

We welcome the distribution of 'Your BBC, Your Say' leaflets through public libraries although we have heard that some libraries have not had the leaflets available and others have not even heard of the initiative. It is good, therefore, that public spirited and interested organisations took the trouble to circulate the leaflets but it would have been much more appropriate for a direct mailing to all licence fee payers (shareholders) and this would have elicited far more information about public attitudes towards the BBC.

We also believe that the above leaflet ought, specifically, to have invited comments about programme provision and content rather than "services".

·         General Observations


e welcome the fact that the Government would like to receive views on all aspects of the BBC (3) and that this is not limited to funding and accounting.

We welcome the recognition that there is impact by the BBC on individuals and society as a whole and that respondents are invited to go beyond the framework of the consultation (4).

We agree that the BBC has played an important role in British society (6) and we recall that Sir Christopher Bland, a former Chairman of the Governors, said on the occasion of the 75th anniversary, that "the BBC has helped to shape the taste of the nation".

We agree that there have been changes at the BBC and in society but we question the assumption that these changes have simply happened on their own. Attention should be focused on the role of the BBC, and other broadcasters, in forcing the pace or promoting that change in culture, behaviour and attitude - and largely without proper accountability or responsibility for the consequences.

We acknowledge that the BBC has become a huge enterprise (7) and welcome the development and introduction of new digital television and radio services although much more, by way of incentives, should be done to make these universally accessible. We also recognise the value of the BBC's commercial activities that increase overall income for the corporation. The sale of programmes, magazines, books, tapes and DVDs, along with economies, helps to minimise licence fee increases. These commercial ventures help to fund BBC activities and provide funding for new programmes. There is clearly a public demand for these products and this is especially so of programming held in the BBC archives that are unlikely to be aired again despite the increased number of channels operated by the BBC. The BBC should continue to run commercial services and it is not unreasonable for the BBC to collaborate with other companies in the production and provision of programming.

We support the aspirations of the BBC's founding fathers to provide a service of education, information and entertainment for the nation (8).

We note that the consultation refers to the review of Public Service Broadcasting currently being conducted by the Office of Communications and would refer to our submission published in January 2004 and to a submission to the Independent Television Commission on the same subject published in 2000.

We view with some cynicism the observation (10) that competition with other public service broadcasters has had "the aim of driving up quality". This may be true in technical quality (wide screen, surround sound) but in terms of programme content it could be said, in some respects, to have had the opposite effect. Indeed, the emphasis placed by the BBC on ratings and audience share has led to a perception of "dumbing down" and "lowest common denominator" programmes.

Of course there are many exceptions but the BBC has played its part in the incremental movement towards more screen violence, greater use of obscene language and ever more explicit depictions of intimate sexual activity. Some programming has had a negative effect by the promotion of degrading values and models of behaviour that undermine social order and traditional family values.

We list here some films shown by the BBC in 2003, which portrayed incidents of obscene language, incidents of violence and incidents of sexual conduct:


BBC1 10/1/2003  Boiling Point               19 x S***

BBC1 17/2/2003  Mallrats             31 x S***, 27 x F***

BBC2 11/4/2003  Clockers             37 x S***, 94 x F***

BBC1 25/5/2003  Fatal Beauty               26 x S***

BBC1 14/6/2003  Total Recall                19 x S***, 24 x F***

BBC2 15/8/2003  2 Days in the Valley    16 x S***, 40 x F***

BBC1 24/8/2003  Jailbreakers                11 x S***, 28 x F***

BBC1 30/8/2003  Red Heat           36 x S***, 9 x F***

BBC1 7/11/2003  North Dallas Forty       24 x S***, 24 x F***

BBC2 14/11/2003 The Funeral                5 x S***, 29 x F***

BBC1 19/11/2003 A Bronx Tale               8 x S***, 48 x F***


BBC1 4/2/2003    Kiss of Death              5 x Firearms, 15 x Violent Assaults

BBC1 22/2/2003  From Dusk Till Dawn    13 x Firearms, 5 x Violent Assaults

BBC1 30/8/2003  Red Heat   14 x Firearms, 3 x Violent Assaults

BBC1 7/9/2003    Heat          13 x Firearms, 7 x Violent Assaults

BBC1 14/9/2003  Cliffhanger 15 x Firearms, 1 x Violent Assault

BBC1 12/10/2003 Death Train        16 x Firearms, 1 x Violent Assault

BBC1 19/12/2003 Sniper                13 x Firearms, 4 x Violent Assaults


BBC1 30/5/2003  The Players Club

BBC1 15/8/2003  2 Days in the Valley

BBC1 24/8/2003  Jailbreakers

BBC1 26/8/2003  Color of Night

BBC1 15/9/2003  Death Wish

BBC1 7/11/2003  North Dallas Forty

BBC1 11/12/2003 To Protect and Serve

In April 2003 the BBC revealed that it had received a record number of complaints about its programmes.  Viewers lodged 1.596 grievances, more than double the 794 received in the previous 12 months.  The proportion of complaints about sexual conduct almost quadrupled - rising from 3.5 per cent to 13.5 percent in the year ending in March 2003.  The programme 'The Virgin Mary' attracted 174 complaints and the gay kiss scene in 'Casualty' attracted 114 complaints.  The BBC's Programme Complaints Unit ruled that there was nothing wrong with these two programmes.  Greg Dyke blamed the record number of complaints on email facilities, which opened last August and made it easier to register protest.  Entertainment programmes drew 22.5 per cent of complaints and news and current affairs drew 22 per cent.  Daily Mail 30/4/2003


We welcomed these figures demonstrating that licence fee payers have become more vocal and not prepared to accept everything without question.  It was particularly significant that there has been a huge increase in complaints about sexual conduct.  This proves that the claim that everybody has become more relaxed about this type of TV content is just not true.



owever, it is also indisputable that the BBC has made a significant contribution to national life (11) and we are pleased to acknowledge the wealth of good and interesting programmes provided. This organisation's Annual Awards have been given to the following BBC programmes: The Yellow River, Yes Minister, Challenge Anneka, Record Breakers, Holiday (Right: Lady Howe presents the Annual Award to Sue Cook in 1995), Great Ormond Street and Crimewatch UK. Over the years the BBC has unquestionably enhanced education, information and entertainment by a broad and range of excellent programming on television and radio.

We accept that the BBC has contributed to the democratic political process (12) but has evidently been biased in favour of permissive ethics and morality presenting such as the norm and excluding or ridiculing opposing views. This has occurred in discussion programmes, talk shows and in news and current affairs programmes. This was especially true in the 1960s when the foundations of the "permissive society" were laid and in the 1970s when these were built upon. The BBC, of course, was not alone in doing this, but because it was the "trusted BBC" it carried greater weight and authority. Recent retrospective documentary series such as the 'I Love … (year)' have celebrated the crucial role played by the media in promoting permissive morality and lifestyles. These behavioural changes, popularised in the 1960s, are now presenting serious and costly problems associated with disorder, crime, social violence as well as marital breakdown teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The normalisation of bad language and swearing is also undermining educational standards and communication skills and remedial action is a drain on resources and educational funding.

We note, despite this consultation, that the BBC's Licence and Agreement with the Government was very quietly and significantly amended at the end of 2003 bringing it into line with the Communications Act. To do so, having already launched this consultation seems extraordinary and does bring into question the value of the exercise.

The BBC today

What do you value about the BBC?

·         What do you think of the BBC's contribution to the life of the United Kingdom and to the wider world?


he BBC's contribution to the life of the United Kingdom in its 80-year history has been enormous. The BBC's record in providing news, current affairs, drama, sport, lifestyle, regional and children's programmes, politics, national and international events have been exemplary. The provision of a broad mix of programmes certainly, on BBC1 and BBC2, is what the general public expects from the BBC. Traditionally, this is how the BBC has gained much of its reputation. Licence Fee payers (shareholders) have become much more discerning consumers of television and radio and on the whole do not expect the BBC to be like 'ITV without adverts' but expect the commissioning of programmes that are distinctive and different from and better than what is available elsewhere. The underlying philosophy of the BBC should be to provide good programming that evidently complies with the requirements set out in the Royal Charter and the Producers' Guidelines. When introduced these Guidelines were described by Sir Christopher Bland as the most comprehensive ethical code on broadcasting anywhere in the world but we believe they could be better defined and more faithfully observed by programme makers.

The BBC adds significantly to the overall provision of programmes that could be described as public service. However, it is a mistake to lump together all programming that may attract or be given a PSB label. We note that some people in the commercial TV sector are making claims for licence fee revenue to fund such commercial programming. Without some qualifying definition this proposal would mean open access to licence fee money and this is not what licence fee payers (shareholders) expect or want. It simply beggars belief that Charles Allen, the Chief Executive of ITV plc described 'I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here' as public service television and the producer of a new Channel 4 series 'The Sex Inspectors' labelled her series similarly.

It is curious that there has been no mention of any reciprocal access to advertising revenue for the BBC especially at times when there is an abundance of funding. Even when times are hard Commercial Television is a very lucrative business that carries with it an element of financial risk.

·         What value does the BBC add to the wider provision of public service broadcasting?


his question assumes that there is a wider provision of public service broadcasting. As we observe elsewhere, the competing commercial sector claims a public service remit but we believe this is subservient to the higher priority of making profits for the companies, shareholders and investors. The BBC, because of the way it is funded, alone embodies public service broadcasting to which the commercial sector merely adds. In some respects we agree with the Secretary of State that the BBC does provide a benchmark for others to attain. The "value" of the BBC is that it does set standards and it is a pity that some programming, such as that listed above, falls short of expectations and damages the reputation on integrity and quality.

We mention here programmes such as 'Naked' on BBC2 shown in June 1999, 'Adult Lives' shown in September 1999, 'Ladies Night' shown in May 1998 and 'Close Relations' shown in June 1998. These are a few examples that we believe failed to meet the 'good taste and decency' requirement set out in the Royal Charter and certainly damaged the BBC's reputation.

·         How well has the BBC met its purposes over the Charter period? What evidence do we have that the way the BBC does this is successful compared to other broadcasters?

In the report 'The BBC Beyond 2000' the BBC's core purposes are set out in detail. It is a serious shortcoming of the consultation paper not to have set these out for the benefit of respondents. The Executive Summary suggests that the purposes remain constant and relate to the UK's heritage and cultural life, enabling all sides to join the debate on issues, to help people broaden horizons, to provide something of particular value and to offer opportunities to create fresh and pioneering broadcast services. New public purposes are to ensure no one is excluded from access to new kinds of service, to engage audiences in new experiences and to act as a trusted guide in a world of abundance.

These lofty aims read well but the passing of time shows that not all have been achieved. It is undoubtedly true that people have been brought together by sad events like the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and by the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as well as other world events, like the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Analysis of the schedules shows that there are very few programmes devoted to heritage and so the core purpose of "nurturing and cherishing the rich diversity" has not adequately been met. Further analysis of the schedules shows that programmes enabling debate of national, regional and local significance are also few and far between. Question Time alone on BBC1 provides such an opportunity. Programmes such as Panorama, Despatch Box, The Daily Politics and The Politics Show provide information and we acknowledge the role of the BBC Local Radio in providing opportunities for local issues to be aired.

BBC television through its national and regional programming reflects the nations and regions but these are limited to early evening news and a weekly magazine programme. Much more could be done to achieve this core purpose by, for example, a weekly 'roundup from the regions' style of programme.

Broadening horizons is a fine aspiration and we believe that this again is not really being achieved adequately by a narrowing of programme genres at peak viewing time. Programmes like The Natural World, Horizon and Omnibus help but such programmes are the exception in schedules dominated by soaps, cookery and home or garden makeover shows.

The core purpose of exposing audiences to new ideas, to scientific discovery, to great art, music and writing, to the spiritual and uplifting, again, are limited by a narrowing of genres.

The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts and programmes such as the Genius of Mozart provide classical music and we cannot overstate the importance of Young Musician of the Year in encouraging new talent. But scientific discovery seems to be limited to Tomorrow's World and Fred Dibnah's programmes and specials like Inside The Bermuda Triangle. There is little apart from Songs of Praise that could be described as spiritual or uplifting. The Heaven and Earth Show provides an opportunity for debate and discussion with a religious dimension and we acknowledge the religious music aired on BBC Radio 3.

We acknowledge that the BBC has invested in new drama like 'Down To Earth', but most new productions like 'Attachments', 'Tipping The Velvet' and 'Charles II' could hardly be said to comply with the good taste and decency requirements as set out in the Royal Charter up until the end of 2003.

Creating fresh and pioneering television, on the whole, seems to be a failed objective bearing in mind that a number of programmes seem to have become immovable pillars around which others have to fit. Such as: Grandstand, Top of The Pops, EastEnders, The Simpsons, Newsnight, Neighbours, Holiday, University Challenge, Top Gear, A Question of Sport, Casualty, Parkinson, Songs of Praise, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, The National Lottery, Ready Steady Cook, Antiques Roadshow, Gardeners World, Ground Force, Only Fools and Horses and Last of The Summer Wine.

This is not to say that these programmes are bad or not popular but to point out that there is a certain perpetuity evident that militates against the above stated core purpose. Comparing the BBC to other broadcasters indicates a degree of sameness that we believe is determined by ratings and audience share which seem to have become the overriding priority. This lack of creativity is increasingly threatened by the latest generation of Personal Video Recorders that can be set to record only favourite programmes.

·         What is it about the BBC that makes it unique? How do we make sure that it is distinct from other broadcasters? Are there better ways to deliver some of the contribution that we have traditionally relied on the BBC to provide?


he BBC is unique principally because of the way it is funded: by an obligatory licence fee. It is also different from other broadcasters because the programmes it produces and transmits are an end in themselves and not calculated to deliver viewers to advertisers. The BBC can and should, therefore, commission programmes that would not ordinarily be made otherwise by other providers.

The BBC is also different because it provides numerous television, national and local radio as well as on-line services. To be distinct becomes ever more difficult because the BBC does not have a monopoly on talent or programme ideas or on the means of production and transmission. The de-regulation of the airwaves has made the task of the BBC to remain distinctive far more difficult. However, we believe that the BBC, above all, should not follow the commercial sector and should do more to raise and maintain standards. We believe that programmes such as Billy Connolly's World Tour series, because of the appalling bad language, should not be part of the BBC's portfolio, whereas his excellent portrayal in the BBC film Mrs Brown, BBC2, 30/8/2003, was exemplary.

We do not believe that there are better ways to deliver the contribution that the BBC provides.

·         How well does the BBC serve the constituent parts of the United Kingdom?

We believe that the BBC, by its local and regional radio output serves the nations and regions well. However, the television output could be improved by the inclusion of more regionally produced programming that is nationally networked. Accordingly, we do not believe that the balance in programming is right nor is the national or regional diversity being properly reflected overall.

A changing landscape

·         How should the BBC adapt to cope with changes in technology and culture?


he BBC has been a key player in embracing and promoting digital technology. As such it has coped well. What it has not coped with, however, has been the public inertia to take up the new technology. We note that recently published research conducted by Ofcom indicates that around 50 per cent of households now have the ability to receive digital TV transmissions. The programming on offer, calculated to compete with other providers, has just not been sufficiently attractive. In fact some viewers have been very disappointed with the reality that many more TV channels have not delivered a wider range of quality programmes. Moreover, it is obvious that many satellite and cable channels have no other purpose that to sell records, DVDs, and holidays as well as other consumer goods.

The audience share for BBC3 TV and BBC4 TV, as Annex A shows, has been so small that it has failed to register in the weekly analysis of TV ratings. Evidently these two channels have not succeeded in attracting even their target audiences. CBBC and Cbeebies have faired better but News 24 is handicapped by other competing 24-hour news channels. BBC Parliament, which is essential viewing for some people, seems to be a channel that is there simply because Parliamentary proceedings are capable of being televised!

Paying for the BBC

·         How should we pay for the BBC?


he Licence Fee was introduced as a way of funding public service broadcasting when the BBC was the sole provider of TV and radio services. Enabling a system of broadcasting funded from advertising revenue to complete with the BBC in 1954 was the beginning of a process that has undermined what is, regarded by some, as a universal tax. The fact that viewers and listeners can now exercise choice and opt to pay other providers and not use BBC services at all has given rise to a grievance over the compulsory nature of the Licence Fee. The BBC, of late, has itself contributed to this sense of grievance by providing a range of digital and on-line services that are not accessible to everyone when everyone has, in fact, paid towards the start up and continuing costs.

In our submission, Funding the BBC, presented to the Davies Committee, we said we could see no good reason why the BBC should not receive some funding from the National Lottery, notably from the fund for Good Causes. The Lottery owes its success to the BBC because of the twice-weekly draws shown on the BBC and the promotion of it across the radio and TV schedules. The BBC could certainly be said to be a 'cultural institution' that benefits every household in the land. Moreover, because of its information and education services we believe the corporation could be classed as a 'good cause' and therefore qualify for funding from this source. The Licence Fee could be stabilised or reduced and everyone would benefit. People voluntarily play the Lottery and questions have been raised about some of the grants made to some of the good causes. Giving some of the overall revenue raised to the BBC to supplement the licence fee would benefit everyone, even those who rarely, if ever, win a cash prize.

However, the Government has given the impression that the licence fee system of funding the BBC is favoured and will be retained unless an alternative scheme can be devised. Accordingly, we can see no prospect of the Licence Fee being abolished completely unless the funding was to be sourced from an increase in direct taxation. We are aware that this proposal would not be popular and has been made in the past and has been rejected.

In the present climate we do not believe that sufficient funding could be raised from advertising revenue given that so many commercial channels depend for their survival on such revenue already. We suggest that advertising on the BBC should be ruled out on the grounds that many viewers are understandably irritated by commercial breaks and prefer ad-free TV.

However, we would point out that in its strenuous efforts to compete with other providers the BBC in recent years has itself adopted a style not unlike ITV! Not only is there a range of 'cultural identities' between programmes there are also two or three trailers for programmes coming later or showing on other BBC channels or promoting BBC digital TV and radio channels. This is particularly irritating when they are for BBC3 or BBC4 or Radio 6 or 7 or BBCi which not everybody can receive or access. What should not be permitted are the self-serving promotions by the BBC at times when the licence fee is being reviewed or when the future is being debated.

Few people would doubt that the BBC provides value for money. The argument that the BBC costs less than a daily newspaper is compelling. The number of TV and Radio channels, national and local, and the broad range of material provided is itself evidence of value for money. However, the number of repeats is a matter of concern and should be addressed by the corporation because they undermine public confidence in the 'value for money' claims.

We note that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently permitted people over 75-years-of-age to receive a free TV Licence. There are calls for the age at which this benefit applies to be reduced. This reduction in revenue has to be made up by increasing the level of the licence fee for those who have to pay it. The Chancellor levies a duty on the Lottery of 12 per cent of the total income. We suggest that a proportion of this tax could be diverted to the BBC in order to supplement the licence fee income. Accordingly, we believe that there is an argument for a mix of revenue streams: Licence Fee, Lottery Duty, Lottery Good Causes Fund, Commercial Activities, Efficiency Savings and Subscription. Although efficiency savings were required in the latest settlement with the Government it is not clear that savings of £1.1 billion have been achieved or what progress has been made in achieving this target.

We note press reports, Broadcast 19/3/2004, that 2 million people are currently evading the licence fee and that the sum owed, around £200 million, according to the Daily Mail, 26/3/2004, is the size of the Corporation's current overdraft.

In recent years, at licence fee-payers expense, the BBC has published lavishly illustrated brochure/booklets setting out what they regard as annual programme achievements. However, we would argue that the BBC is not sufficiently accountable to the viewing and listening public in the way that it expends resources and in the style and content of all programmes provided. In our opinion there is an over reliance on programming not originating in the UK, and therefore, reflecting differing cultural values and ideals. We do not suggest that this is necessarily a Bad Thing but many people do resent the imposition of a global television culture manufactured largely in America.

Monitoring conducted by mediawatch-uk shows that American films portray violence and civil disorder that undermines social policy. We welcome, and draw attention to, the remarks about violent entertainment made recently by The Rt Hon Charles Clarke, MP, the Education Secretary, The Times, 29/12/2003, and more recently by The Rt Hon David Blunkett, MP, the Home Secretary. The Sunday Times, 21/3/2004.

These films, and other programmes, also portray sexual conduct and the use of bad language to such an extent that they represent an unprecedented assault on our health service and education system. We note that STI's have reached epidemic proportions among the young and that violent crime among the young is at an all time high. According to Home Office figures the number of criminals aged 11 and under has soared by 150 per cent in the last 10 years. Children aged between ten and seventeen committed 49,200 crimes in 2003. Daily Mail 30/12/2003.

It is this age group which is targeted by filmmakers and who are most influenced by macho heroes who validate violence and sexual promiscuity. In so far as the BBC commissions produces and buys in programming of this sort we believe it is a public disservice.

Governance, regulation and constitution

·         How should the BBC be governed and regulated?


he Governors of the BBC are appointed to safeguard the public interest in the affairs of the Corporation. Exactly how this works in practice is not clear. The Governors rarely if ever make themselves accessible to the public and only when there is a crisis, such as the publication of the Hutton Inquiry findings, does the Chairman become visible. The process by which the Governors are appointed is shrouded in mystery and only when the Annual Reports are published is reference made to them. We do not doubt that all of the Governors are worthy people with wide experience that work together well but we believe that much more should be known about them and what they do on our behalf. It is good for our democracy that the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport interviews the Chairman and Director General from time to time. But the Governors and senior management really ought to use the media, over which they have control, to communicate much more with their viewers and listeners (shareholders). This way accountability would be improved. We regret the demise of 'It's Your BBC' which was an innovation shown in the early 1990s when Marmaduke Hussey was Chairman.

The establishment of Ofcom has not noticeably altered the role of the BBC's Governors. We acknowledge that Ofcom's regulatory function is rightly limited to handling complaints about fairness and privacy and harm and offence. It is in the public interest that there should be a single 'port of call' or a 'one-stop-shop' for all complaints about television and radio content. This meets the original intention to overcome public confusion about regulation of the media. We welcome the establishment of Ofcom's Contact Centre with its own national rate telephone number.

What has not been resolved, however, is the current and on-going relevance of the mechanisms put in place by the BBC and whether the Programme Complaints Unit will continue to function or be disbanded.

The Royal Charter of the BBC certainly adds prestige and authority to the Corporation but perhaps the time has come to establish the BBC by Act of Parliament so that legitimate grievances can be pursued, if necessary, through the courts.


·         How do we ensure that the BBC is properly accountable to the public and Parliament?


he accountability of the BBC could be improved if those who govern and manage the corporation were much more accessible to the viewing public (shareholders) by being interviewed more frequently about policy objectives, expenditure priorities and programme content. We acknowledge publication of the Annual Report and Accounts as well as a range of policy documents and annual Statements of Promises. These, however, set out targets that the BBC sets itself and judges itself on how well they have been met. Independent scrutiny is essential.

The most appropriate forum through which accountability can be examined is the Select Committee system in Parliament as well as by an annual debate in Parliament on the corporation's Annual Report. In addition we believe that new ways must be devised by which licence fee payers (shareholders) can be involved and properly represented. The Regional Advisory Council structure is established but these are so low in public profile that few people outside the BBC know they exist. Yet they do have direct access to the Governors and so much more should be done to promote these Councils, for example by using the TV licence renewal system. A leaflet about them could be included giving contact information. It is not enough simply to include this information in the Annual Report, which few people read.

6 April 2004

Click here for Funding the BBC 

Click here for mediawatch-uk submission to Ofcom on PSB

Click here for mediawatch-uk submission to the ITC on PSB

Click here for A Viewers’ Charter

Click here for The Daily Grunt

Click here for The Daily Grunt Part 2

Click here for ‘Promoting a Culture of Violence 2’

Click here for Spring 2004 newsbrief

Click here for Joining Form 


£3bn-a-year BBC doubles the number of repeats



he BBC is showing twice as many repeats as ten years ago in spite of being ordered by the Government to stop padding its schedules with re-runs of vintage sitcoms.  The worst offender is BBC2 which toworrow will show 13 hours of repeats out of a total of 18 hours of broadcasting.  Television watchdogs last night condemned the figures as 'highly regrettable' and accused the corporation of 'selling less for more'.  John Milton Whatmore, chairman mediawatch-uk said the BBC was trying to fudge the issue.  'This business of "its not a repeat if people have not seen it before" is totally off the wall'.


Daily Mail 7/7/2003


BBC Chairman launches pre-emptive independence strike



enior BBC executives are convinced that they are involved in a battle for the corporation’s independence.  The intervention yesterday by the Chairman, Gavyn Davies, was seen as a tactical strike in that battle.  His scathing dismissal of “an external regulator that will bring the BBC to heel was, sources say, a direct response to a warning by Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, that the BBC could forfeit its right to self-governance.  The warning that the BBC would not succumb to “political bullying” was intended to send a message to the Government to back off over charter renewal.  Ms Jowell said: “The charter review that was due in the normal way will be conducted in the normal way without any reference to recent events.  We entirely reject the BBC Chairman’s attempt to confuse our desire to correct the original story by Mr Gilligan with an attack on the BBC’s independence.”


The Times 28/7/2003


Writing in the Sunday Telegraph 27/7/2003 BBC Chairman, Gavyn Davies, suggested that there were threats to the BBC’s independence that “are serious and sinister”.  He went on to say the “the immense strength of the BBC’s system of governance is that the 12 individuals on the board are beholden to no one.  Not to management, not to competitors, not to Government.  They are not doing the job for the money, or to climb the greasy pole.  They are doing it simply because they believe in the independence of a great institution.  That is why they guard that independence so jealously, and always will.