2018 Volume 68 Issue 2 Pages 28-37
The Royal Charter—the constitutional basis for the continuance of the BBC, public service broadcaster of the United Kingdom—was renewed in January 2017. Each Charter review involves public discussion over how the BBC should be. Prior to the 2017 renewal, the UK government published a “Green Paper” consultation in July 2015 as a springboard for discussion, which invited opinions from the public regarding the following four themes: “Why the BBC? Mission, purpose and values,” “What the BBC does. Scale and scope,” “BBC funding,” and “BBC governance and regulation.” The results of the public consultation revealed that 69% of the respondents were favorable about the expansion of the BBC services and budget scale to fit in the digital age, and 60% thought there would be no need to change the licence fee system.Following these steps, the Charter renewal was completed. The notable change was about the BBC’s governance structure. The previous Charter established the BBC Trust as the governing body within the BBC, but the new Charter closed it, and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) became the first external, independent regulator of the BBC. At the outset, Ofcom issued “Operating Framework” that covers regulatory obligations of the BBC. And in October, it published “Operating Licence” that states specific regulatory conditions with quotas. The new system gives Ofcom strong authority over the BBC, such as assessing the BBC’s performance and having the right to make decisions about new services to launch. This article reviews the process of the Charter-renewal debate and summarizes the characteristics of the BBC’s new governance system.