Ax-Grinding Lords Join Battle Over BBC Future

28 February 2005

The political anachronism that is Britain's unelected second chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, has intervened in the debate over the future of the BBC.

Their Lordships have reportedly been spurred-on by former journalist and establishment legman David Lipsey, who in 1999, with Gavyn Davies (onetime chief economist at Goldman Sachs London), wrote a joint study on the future funding of the BBC.

Davies went on to become chairman of the BBC's board of governors, but dutifully fell on his sword in 2004 after publication of the notoriously monocular Hutton Report on the BBC's reporting of the government's Iraq 'weapons of mass destruction' dossier.

Lipsey, meantime, has maintained a relatively low profile but is said to have been hyperactive behind the political scenery at the House of Lords, a crumbling edifice of hereditary nobles and political placemen.

The Lords has now decided to form its own select committee to vet the 'green paper' [government consultation document] on the future structure and funding of the BBC, due to be published later this week.

But, according to The Guardian newspaper, there are fears among government ministers that the Lords committee will resemble a taxidermy convention - starring such faded broadcast executives as ex-BBC director general Lord John Birt and all-purpose media guru Lord Melvyn Bragg - all happily pontificating to a soundtrack of grinding axes.

Expect a flurry of attention-grabbing oldtimers determined to relive former broadcast glories in the fustian surroundings of the Palace of Westminster.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff