BBC ‘must have independent regulator,’ says Bishop

The Rt Rev James Jones

An independent regulator should be set up to deal with complaints about the BBC, the Bishop of Liverpool has suggested.
Bishop James Jones said that at present the BBC Trust had to act both as a “guardian” and as a regulator.
He said if the relationship between the chairman of the Trust and the director-general was like that between the chairman and chief executive of a company it became “impossible for the trustees and their chair to act as some appellate body detached from the workings of the organisation”.

In a House of Lords debate on BBC governance, he said: “I am persuaded that if there is an unresolved issue between the BBC and its audience, the complaint must ultimately be dealt with by an external body.
“Nobody can deny the enormous power of the BBC. Even its greatest admirers, such as myself, recognise that its charter and its funding place it in a unique and privileged position among broadcasters. The exercise of this power requires the greatest integrity and the closest scrutiny.”

Peers were debating a report by the Lord communications committee that recommended Ofcom taking over regulating the BBC. But Bishop Jones, a member of the committee, said he took a minority view in favour of an independent adjudicator.

He said: “My fear about giving Ofcom the responsibility of regulating the BBC is simply the scale of the task and being able to do justice to that task.

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