BBC Chairman Welcomes Government White Paper

16 March 2006

BBC chairman Michael Grade on Wednesday greeted with enthusiasm the government's terms and conditions for renewal of the broadcaster's Royal Charter - the structure under which it will operate for the next ten years.

Following three years of tense relationships between the BBC and the Blair administration - arising mainly from the latter's claims over the reasons underlying the Iraq war and the BBC's sceptical reportage of those claims - the moderate tone of the White Paper came as a relief to BBC management.

The paper confirms that present method of funding - a licence fee imposed on all TV-owning households in the UK - will continue through to 2016.

However, there will be reviews "in the future into the scope for other methods of funding the BBC beyond 2016 and the possibility of distributing public funding more widely to other broadcasters".

The document also requires that the BBC reaches a more "consensual relationship" with media industry rivals, providing "transparency, certainty and clarity" where its activities could have an impact on the wider market.

However, the government's culture, media and sport secretary Tessa Jowell exhorts the BBC to "continue to take fun seriously" (thereby invoking queasy overtones of Soviet era 'strength through joy'). High quality entertainment, insists Jowell, must remains a vital part of the corporation's mission.

On first sight of the paper the BBC chairman may have been tempted to whoop and throw his hat in the air.

Instead, seasoned campaigner that he is, Michael Grade composed a solemn face and intoned: "On behalf of the BBC I welcome the White Paper because the structural changes it demands will ensure the continuing independent of the BBC."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff