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BBC ro be externally regulated

Press AssociationPress Association 12/05/2016

The BBC is to be regulated by an external organisation for the first time in its 90-year history, the British government will announce.

The change is one of a number of proposals contained in a long-awaited White Paper on the BBC's future, which also includes a rise in the licence fee and a plan to charge people to watch programs on the iPlayer.

Independent media regulator Ofcom will become the official regulator of the BBC, replacing the internal BBC Trust.

The BBC's charter will also be renewed every 11 years, rather than 10 years at present.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale will outline the full proposals in parliament later on Thursday.

"The BBC is a world-class broadcaster and one of our country's greatest institutions. Our plans will mean that the BBC will keep making the great programs we love and will continue to thrive in the future," a government source said.

A key reform laid out in the White Paper is the formation of what the government is calling a "strong unitary board for the BBC".

The BBC will be responsible for appointing at least "half of the board members" and Ofcom will be the external regulator of the corporation.

Specific details of who would elect the other half of the board have not yet been detailed.

This change was one of the key suggestions made by Sir David Clementi last year as he detailed the results of an independent review into the way the BBC was governed.

The former deputy governor of the Bank of England recommended that the current governing body, the BBC Trust, be abolished and suggested the corporation be regulated entirely by Ofcom.

The length of the charter will be extended to 11 years so that it is independent of any political cycle, and there will be a mid-term "health cheque" to ensure things are functioning as they should be.

Key debates in the run up to charter renewal have been the question of government interference in the editorial independence of the BBC.

MPs expressed concern in parliament around reports that the Culture Secretary would look to prevent the BBC from screening popular shows at peak viewing times.

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