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Davies reforms BBC accountability procedures

BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies (pictured) has published changes to the BBC's governance and accountability system in order to "promote greater clarity and understanding", as well as address concerns raised as UK broadcasting enters the Ofcom age.
The reforms are the result of a review initiated when Mr Davies was appointed as BBC Chairman last October. In the foreword to the review document, he said: "The Governors and the Executive Committee of the BBC have distinct roles, but they are united in their single key objective, which is to sustain and improve the BBC’s role as the UK’s mass market, public service broadcaster, in the public interest. One of the prime responsibilities of the Board of Governors is to keep their own house in order, ensuring that their procedures are suited to leading the modern BBC in a rapidly changing regulatory environment."
The document outlines four main areas of reforms:
Firstly, it seeks to establish clarity about who is responsible for what on the Executive Committee and Board of Governors. For the first time, a clear statement of the very different roles the two boards fulfil in the public interest will be published. Governors will in future directly appoint and manage external auditors on fair-trading, rather than through an Executive department.
Secondly, the BBC will also strive to provide more focus on their public service remit, made possible as the BBC are now ‘under Ofcom’ in key areas like economic regulation, basic standards and quotas.
The third focus will be on greater openness and accessibility, beginning with the BBC publishing their first 'Statements of Programme Policy' for all services in the summer. They will be designed to be genuinely useful to audiences and there has been wide consultation on the tone and content, which will continue. The statements will be published each year alongside the Annual Report.
Fourthly, the BBC will provide proper support for Governors to fulfil their responsibilities. A new Governance and Accountability department will provide the Governors with more independent sources of advice and support on audience understanding, compliance, objective setting and accountability.
Mr Davies said that the Government’s intention to create Ofcom had given the BBC’s commercial competitors the opportunity to argue for profound changes to BBC governance and marginalise the BBC’s role. However, he said other concerns were based on "profound misunderstandings" about how the BBC will relate to Ofcom in the new system.
He said: "The BBC has no desire to stand aloof and separate from the new regulator. We welcome the proposed establishment of Ofcom and look forward to working with it."
The full document can be downloaded from the BBC website.

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