Schlosberg, Justin

According to Justin Schlosberg (Birkbeck, University of London) the government’s recent White Paper on BBC Charter Renewal, exhibits a ‘worrying development’ in terms of proposed changes to the BBC’s governance. The proposed system of a new ‘unitary board’ in which the majority of members will be appointed by the government, threatens ‘to give a direct government appointee overall editorial responsibility for all the BBC’s output.’ This government move goes against the previous Charter Renewal option of ‘top slicing’ of the licence fee, which was perceived as a commercial threat to this public institution. But Schlosberg observes that ‘a centralised and concentrated BBC is intrinsically more vulnerable to editorial pressures precisely because they can filter down the chain of governors, directors, managers and editors.’ On the other hand, top slicing, if structured in the right way, would potentially allow decentralisation of the BBC’s structure and governance, which would ‘need not involve any degree of privatisation or commercialisation’, and would potentially be even more immune to to market pressures.

Justin Schlosberg