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Would the BBC work better as a company, charity, instead of a new Royal charter?

The BBC exists because, every ten years, the monarch has granted another Charter. Given the changes in the media landscape in the last decades, should the BBC move to another status?

Time for some BBC blue-sky thinking?   Photograph: Brian Butterworth
Time for some BBC blue-sky thinking? Photograph: Brian Butterworth
published on UK Free TV

BBC, plc 2017

In a set of articles earlier in the year, I investigated the BBC as a public company, sometimes run by subscription and other times by adverts and by subscription.

British Broadcasting Charity

One option that must be on the table is the change in the BBC from having a Royal Charter to being a charity.

The claims for the BBC's Royal Charter seem to be rather bust these days.   Aside from the democratic implications in the 21st century of the head of state being able to make law by proclamation, the claimed benefits are long since gone.

The last three Prime Ministers have done away with once-treasured the BBC News independence.

Tony Blair used the strategy of a judge-lead whitewash (using the logic "the Prime Minister cannot lie because he is the Prime Minister") to weaken the independent broadcaster.

Gordon Brown, by providing "free" TV Licences to pensioners allowed the state to co-opt a sizable part of the funds supposedly hypothecated from the TV Fee.    He could have provided pensioners with a £150 uplift in their pensions.

This pensioner allocation was used by Prime Minister David Cameron to strong arm DG Thompson into cutting back the BBC in an egregious funding settlement. 

It is clear that the BBC is no longer independent of government, the Royal Charter special guarantee no longer respected by Ministers "of the Crown".  

So, perhaps it would be sensible to do away with the 10-year cycle of renegotiation and move the Broadcaster to the status of the British Broadcasting Charity, and hope that the Charity Commission can provide a better protection for our national broadcaster than elderly monarch does. 

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