Editorial Independence, Or Unaccountability?

Can somebody please read this update of the BBC Agreement (as in “Charter & Agreement”) and tell me if “Editorial Independence” actually translates into “Unaccountability”?

Continuing Agreement

Concerns have been expressed that the NAO reviews could lead to individual star’s salaries becoming public, or the details of managerial decisions on finance, because the NAO can ask for any information it needs for its audit. The wording of the agreement makes no specific reference to those concerns and no such information has been revealed in previous NAO reports on the BBC.

A Trust spokesperson said: ‘The NAO already have full access to the information they need to carry out reviews of the BBC; today’s announcement confirms and continues that arrangement. In addition it will now enable the NAO to decide which areas to look at, but in an arrangement where it will continue to submit reports to the Trust. We believe that the terms agreed build on the BBC’s existing relationship with the NAO to the benefit of licence fee payers, while preserving the BBC’s independence.’

Editorial Independence

The agreement makes clear that whilst the NAO is ‘entitled to review any BBC decision’ it is not entitled to ‘question the merits of any editorial or creative judgment or policy decision about the way BBC services are made or distributed.’

The Trust will still do its own value for money reviews, in fact the agreement requires it to lay out its own programme of such work each year. The NAO can’t examine the same area as the Trust in the same year.

The NAO will submit its reports to the Trust, which will prepare a response before sending both to the Secretary of State to lay before Parliament.

There’s more at the link. The NAO (or anyone else, presumably, like OfCom) can say what they like, but the Trust will decide what to present to Jeremy Hunt, decide what is value for money, and decide if the BBC can syphon off extra Government/taxpayer cash to spend on the World Service. (Hopefully not for hiring yet another field correspondent to cover the US.)

This sounds like unaccountability by any other name.

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4 Responses to Editorial Independence, Or Unaccountability?

  1. London Calling says:

    “value for money reviews?”

    The Problem is editorial standards and the failure of the BBC to meet its obligation to provide objective reporting, not “value for money” (other than in the sense whole of the BBC is a waste of money)

    A BBC reporter based in New York recycling Democrat smears agains Republicans and eulogising Obama is not a value for money issue. It would cost the same to have  them provide objectiove independent reporting of US issues.

    The NAO is not competent to evaluate BBC reporting integrity, but then, being full of quango-type placemen, neither is The BBC Trust. There doesn’t seem anywhere to go with this, which is why the BBC is so brazen. It knows it’s untouchable.

    The only answer to the “BBC problem” is plurality of news reporting and entertainment. Abolish the license fee, and let the viewer decide, through the market.


  2. john in cheshire says:

    Does anyone know how individuals such as Justin Webb are employed; specifically, are they salaried employees of the bbc or are they self-employed on contract (being responsible for their own pension arrangememnts)? If the latter, then I wonder what is the proportion of people on contract and those who are salaried staff. I recall that Mr Birt was on contract, hence his expenses claims including such things as cleaning of his suits (if memory serves me well), which apparently is tax-deductible.


  3. NRG says:

    General form is for your avearge beeboid to take a salary of 150k, and the rest as a fee to a “production company” owned by said beeboid.

    Hence the big names tend to have more than one gig.

    There therefore avoid the 50p tax rate and pay lower business tax rates on their “production company” profits. Plenty of scope for accountants and expenses payments to max the pain to the licence fee payer.


  4. George R says:

    ‘Guardian’ article:  
    “Patten’s beloved BBC could get caught in the cross-media ownership crossfire”  
    There is a hint of recognition here that the BBC-NUJ may have problems in terms of its huge empire and the content of its output; of course, being the ‘The Guardian’, it does not spell out that for British people, BBC-NUJ means:  
    1.) a punitive tax;  
    2.) vast monopolistic powers in TV, radio, internet, etc;  
    3.)a global political empire spreading propaganda for BBC, Labour, Islam, mass immigration, E.U., Obama, etc.