New BBC Charter could ‘accelerate’ current issues
The Countryside Alliance (CA) has raised significant concerns following the commencement of the new BBC Charter; the Royal Charter is the constitutional basis for the BBC and sets out its public purposes, guarantees its independence, and outlines the duties of the Trust and the Executive Board.
Having commenced on 1 January, the new Charter establishes important changes to the way complaints and appeals are handled; the BBC Trust, previously responsible for enforcing editorial standards and impartiality of BBC content, closed in April of this year with some of its powers being transferred to Ofcom.
Ofcom will have a new role in holding the BBC to account, however this role will be confined to broadcast news and current public policy, with the vast majority of content falling outside its scope.
Writing on the Conservative Home website, media relations manager at the CA, Tom Hunt argued that the new charter amounted to a “significant reduction in the external regulation of BBC accuracy and impartiality”. He went on to say: “This should be of significant concern to anybody who cares about the BBC, its future, and its relationship with the great British public. In 2014, a BBC Trust Review found that there was a ‘gulf in understanding between the BBC and a significant section of the rural community’. The same report went on to admit that the BBC has a ‘metropolitan bias’.
“Unfortunately, since this welcome self-diagnosis, very little has been done to address the concerns we raised. For example, consider the record of [BBC presenter] Chris Packham. “We fear that the ‘metropolitan bias’, identified by the BBC Trust in 2014 will not only continue to linger, but may actually accelerate.”