Entertainment & Arts

BBC Trust 'flawed' and should be replaced by Ofcom, report says

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Image caption Sir David said Ofcom could be a 'strong regulator to match a strong BBC'

The BBC Trust is "flawed" and should be scrapped, with governance of the corporation moving to the media watchdog Ofcom, a report has concluded.

Sir David Clementi, who led the independent review, said there was a need for "fundamental reform".

The BBC is currently regulated by the trust, its executive board and Ofcom.

In response, the BBC Trust said it was important to "get the details right" on any changes.

Sir David, former chairman of Prudential, and previously a deputy governor of the Bank of England, said there should be a "fundamental reform of the system of governance and regulation" for the BBC.

"The BBC Trust model is flawed. It conflates governance and regulatory functions within the Trust. The BBC should have a unitary Board charged with responsibility for meeting the obligations placed on it under the Royal Charter and Agreement, and responsibility for the interests of Licence Fee payers.

"Regulatory oversight should pass wholly to Ofcom, which is already the public service regulator for the UK's broadcasting industry and has the ability to look at the BBC in the context of the market as a whole. Ofcom would be a strong regulator to match a strong BBC."

He added that the BBC should have a "unitary board made up with a majority of non-executive directors" with "responsibility for meeting the obligations placed on it under the Royal Charter and Agreement, and for the interests of licence fee payers".

Image caption Rona Fairhead said Sir David's recommendation of a strong regulator was "a change we have argued for"

The report, commissioned by the Government as part of the BBC Charter Review process, also recommends the imposition of "operating licences", which set out the BBC's obligations to its audiences, and a system where the BBC "handles complaints in the first instance with Ofcom handling appeals on editorial issues".

A further recommendation would see the BBC's Charter place on the corporation a "duty to consult with the public both as consumers and as licence fee payers".

In response to the report, BBC Trust chair Rona Fairhead said: "Sir David Clementi proposes a strong BBC board and a strong external regulator - a change we have argued for.

"It will be important to get the details right, and we now want to work with the Government to ensure roles are clear, the structure is effective and the BBC's independence protected."

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