Should the BBC become a mutual?

Should the BBC become a mutual?


What do we think of Mili-D’s plan?

According to Paul Waugh on his Standard blog the Labour leadership front-runner, David Miliband, together with Tessa Jowell have come up with an interesting new plan for the BBC. They suggest that it should become a “mutual” with TV licence payers having a “real say” in how the corporation is run.

According to Waugh they will say: “Owned by the British public and paid for directly through each household’s TV licence, it is only right that ordinary members of the public should have a real say in how it is run.

Under a mutual model, membership of the BBC could be open to everyone who pays the licence fee. Members could have the right to elect representatives to a Member’s Council that would elect a majority of members of the BBC Trust. This would give licence fee payers a way to democratic voice in the priorities of the BBC.

“Greater public engagement with members could also take place via the website, to ensure the BBC was providing responsive services. With those running the BBC directly accountable to their members, they would have a clear mandate to canvas license fee payers on all major policy decisions.”

It’s an interesting concept and provides Labour with an alternative policy agenda during the discussions on the renewal of the BBC’s charter which we’ll see in the next year or so.

Already bodies like the Adam Smith Institute are calling for the licence fee to be scrapped and culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been hugely critical of the way the corporation spends its money.

The licence fee was created in an era when the frequencies were scarce and multi-channel TV and radio on the scale we know now was not possible. Now all that has changed and as the recipient of a compulsory levy the existing structures need to be looked at.

Mike Smithson

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