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David Puttnam

Lord Puttnam: protect BBC from state intervention

Lord Puttnam: protect BBC from state intervention

25 April, 2016

Lord Puttnam: protect BBC from state intervention

Lord Puttnam has backed calls by Lord Lester and other MPs for the BBC charter to be supported by statutory legislation.

Adding a statutory element to the charter would enshrine its terms in law and is designed to encourage a more robust renewal process and greater parliamentary scrutiny of changes to the BBC in future.

Addressing the House of Lords during a speech yesterday, Puttnam expressed concern over Sir David Clementi’s report on BBC regulation and governance claimed it “conflated” the two elements. He was also “disappointed” that it supported the notion that six of the 13 unitary board members should be appointed by government.

Culture secretary John Whittingdale’s plan for the government to appoint a “significant majority” of board members was “even more disturbing”, according to Puttnam.  

“That’s what I call the wrong kind of state intervention” he said.

More secure BBC

The former Channel 4 chairman and lead of the inquiry into the Future of Public Service Broadcasting argued that “after almost a century of extraordinary success, the time has come for the BBC to be constituted on a more secure and permanent basis”.

Puttnam welcomed the Lords Communications Committee’s report on the future of the corporation, including its calls for greater transparency around the funding process and prevention of top-slicing of the licence fee.

However, he said the Lords’ report did not have the remit to scrutinise issues surrounding the BBC’s independence in relation to its governance and funding.

“The crucial issue is for anyone seriously interested in the health of plural democracy to focus on the overriding importance of the corporation’s independence,” he said.

Puttnam backed shadow culture secretary Maria Eagle’s comments on Tuesday that the government had taken a “bullying” approach to charter renewal.

He said that threats to force a sell-off of UKTV and open up the licence fee to contestable funding to help fund children’s programming was “at best short-sighted”.

Source: Broadcast

Written by Hannah Gannagé-Stewart