BBC Charter Arbiter 'Too Close to Blair', Warns Ex-Beeb Boss

11 February 2004

One-time managing director of BBC TV Sir Paul Fox -- whose distinguished resumé also includes stints as chairman of Independent Television News and Channel 4 -- on Tuesday urged the government to disbar culture, media and sport secretary Tessa Jowell from acting as final decision-maker in the BBC charter renewal process.

"The renewal of the charter of the BBC in 2006 should be taken out of the hands of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport," wrote Fox in last night's London Evening Standard.

Jowell is "too close" to prime minister Tony Blair, Fox claims. Blair and his allies are now perceived in some quarters to be pursuing a vendetta against the BBC for its uncomfortably independent news reporting before and during the Iraq war.

Jowell, a staunch Blairista, is too committed to the premier to make a truly independent decision on the BBC's future, Fox fears. "Tessa Jowell may be an admirable person but she is too close to Tony Blair and too unsure about what sort of BBC we need to make the right decision on her own. There is no point in having a 'great conversation' about the BBC as she proposes."

Fox also argues that new media supra-regulator Ofcom should play no part in deciding the BBC's future. "This is not a job for Ofcom: it is too new, too inexperienced and has enough on its plate."

Instead he advocates an independent committee whose hearings "should be in public and should be televised and it should report to parliament within twelve months."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff