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'Give public say' on BBC's future

BBC director-general Tony Hall will present its annual report and accounts later today and tell the Government that the millions of people who make up its audience must have "the biggest say" over its future.

Mr Hall, who took over at the helm in 2013, will attempt to rally the corporation in the face of continuing pressure.

Last week saw it agree to take over responsibility for funding TV licences for over-75s from the Government as part of a deal agreed in the run-up to the budget and a green paper on its future is expected on Thursday which will examine the future of the licence fee and its commitment to public service programmes.

Cul ture Secretary John Whittingdale has also appointed an eight person panel to wo rk on the renewal of the BBC's royal charter - which sets out the corporation's remit - which runs out at the end of 2016.

Mr Hall is expected to reiterate his view the funding deal was the right thing to do in difficult circumstances and demand the public have a say in charter review.

A BBC source said: " Although the financial settlement announced last week will give the BBC stability there is an important argument to be made about what kind of BBC we want to see in the future.

"Whether it is one that will provide something for everyone and be a beacon for Britain around the world - or whether it will be forced into a market failure model and weaken the UK's creative industries.

"We think debates about the future of the BBC are healthy, b ut it needs to be a well informed debate, grounded in fact and one in which the public - the millions who watch, read or listen every day - have the biggest say."

Mr Hall will also defend the BBC's commitment to entertainment shows after it was reported that more commercial programmes like The Voice would be dumped under the new charter which would demand the BBC commits to a narrower range of programming.

He is expected to say the BBC has a "long and distinguished pedigree" in popular entertainment shows and their presence reflects the "universal nature of the licence fee".

The annual report is expected to highlight the BBC's efforts to cut costs with the introduction of a £150,000 cap on severance pay and the loss of around 1,000 jobs and highlight its child protection processes which came under scrutiny in the light of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.


From Belfast Telegraph