Wales

Report recommends removing BBC board's Welsh trustee role

Elan Closs Stephens
Image caption Elan Closs Stephens was born in Gwynedd and is Emeritus Professor at Aberystwyth University

The role of the Welsh representative should be removed from a reformed BBC board, a committee of MPs has said.

The Commons' Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) committee's report into the BBC Charter Review recommends there should be no "specific director" for Wales under a new structure.

Elan Closs Stephens is the national trustee for Wales on the BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust.

A senior BBC Wales source said the proposals were "ill-considered".

Ms Stephens's role would be abolished under the committee's plans for a new governance and management structure.

The report recommends abolishing the trust in favour of a unitary board of executive and non-executive directors.

'Marching backwards'

It said "regional and national issues should be dealt with by the board collectively, not via specific director appointments".

A BBC spokesman said: "We support the committee's assertion that the BBC's independence should be protected by taking the BBC out of the political cycle and agree with its proposal for an 11 or 12 year charter.

"Like the committee, we think the BBC should be externally regulated - we believe that a unitary board would be good for the BBC and strengthen accountability."

The BBC Wales source added: "Practically every major development in broadcasting in Wales over the last 50 years has only come about because we've had someone at the very top table of the BBC championing our nation's interests and telling it like it is.

"Under these ill-considered plans, we're in danger of marching backwards."

But the Labour MP for Wrexham, Ian Lucas - a member of the committee - said a board member could not represent the whole of Wales.

Image caption Ian Lucas says different parts of Wales have different needs

He told BBC Radio Wales: "I think that it's really important that the board has a collective, strong, enquiring voice and it's not there at the moment and that doesn't happen simply by having a badge on that you represent a particular nation or a particular region.

"A lot of progress has been made but I don't think the mere fact that there is a trust board member from Wales will make a good accountable body.

"We need someone who is going to represent the whole of the UK but also speak out on behalf of Wales."

He added north east Wales, where his constituency is located, is not heard enough within the BBC.

"Simply to stick a badge on a board member and insist that person can speak for the whole of Wales is not the right approach."

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