The BBC Trust Could Be Abolished In Favour of Ofcom

By James O Malley on at

The BBC could be regulated by Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, for the first time under new plans being mooted by shadowy Westminster rumour-mongers.

According to The Telegraph the government intends to scrap the BBC Trust - the body that oversees the corporation and gives it a telling off whenever it does anything wrong - and instead leave that job to the body that regulates commercial TV channels instead. According to The Guardian, government sources have also denied that they want this to happen, meaning that it is up to everyone else to decode the whispers.

The upshot of the switch to Ofcom would essentially be that a new, external force will have legally binding control over the corporation. As with commercial broadcasters, Ofcom would be able to dish out fines when it thinks the BBC has done something wrong. Perhaps crucially for critics of the BBC, it would be an outside force issuing the slap-downs, rather than the current Trust, which is viewed as too cosy - having signed off on big pay-offs for BBC executives.

The changes are expected to be built into the renewal of the BBC Charter, which is the legal document that allows the BBC to exist and which must be renegotiated with the government every 10 years. The charter is currently due for renewal in 2017, so expect to see BBC executives and MPs getting increasingly feisty with each other in the run-up.

Charter renewal is one of the major icebergs ahead for the corporation, as discussions will be needed over the future of the License Fee - which according to the Telegraph will, at best, be frozen (and therefore with inflation taken into account, will mean a real terms cut in funding). [The Telegraph]