What is the BBC?
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is an autonomous corporation founded under Royal Charter providing publicly-funded television and radio broadcasting organisation, with extensive interests in programme production, newsgathering and commercial publishing.
The BBC is funded by licence fees. The level of the licence fee is set by the Government.
This method of funding seeks to ensure that the BBC’s activities are not influenced by the interests of politicians, shareholders or advertisers.
The BBC is headed by a Governing Board which is responsible for the operational management of the Corporation and for the delivery of BBC services.
The Board is led by a non-executive Chairman and consists of ten non-executive members, including the Chairman, and four executive members including the BBC’s Director-General and Editor-in-Chief, who chairs the Executive Committee.
Four of the non-executive members are specifically appointed as members for each of the nations of the UK.
The Chairman and the non-executive members for the nations are appointed by HM The Queen.
Other members of the Board are appointed by the BBC through the Board’s Nominations Committee.
The BBC is subject to Public Service Broadcasting requirements under its Charter, which is reviewed every ten years.
Important points to note:
1. The BBC is founded under Royal Charter and is accountable only to the Queen.
2. The Queen appoints 10 of 14 people to the Board of management.
3. Its non-commercial activities are not wholly overseen by OFCOM.
4. Ofcom is accountable to the State, not politicians.
The imposition of Censorship in 1937, provided the totalitarian United Kingdom with a weapon with which it prevented the exposure of its abuse of power and privilege over Scotland.
For over 400 years the country boasting the oldest parliament and free speech muzzled Scots and systematically destroyed its communities.
In 1968 the Lord Chamberlins powers were supposedly curtailed and the nation was given the promise that there would be no more State secrets.
But the “Freedom of Information Act” is a joke. Politicians are still answerable only to parliament and information is rarely released.
Successive governments have replaced censorship with spin, an insidious development enhanced with the appointment of many hundreds of “Special Advisors” many just out of university with no political experience.
These political appointments (many the sons and daughters of party politicians) are fully financed by the State.
Compounding the abuse of the electorate they are then shortlisted as candidates in safe seats guaranteeing their political future at Westminster.
Nothing is safe in our Westminster politicians hands and Scots would be better off gaining independence and putting in place a written “Bill of Rights”.
Jun 2015: Is Britain going to see the return of the Lord Chamberlain?
Keen watchers of the Queen’s Speech will have noticed three things.
Firstly, the Lord Chamberlain of the Household. Now supposed to be a constitutional ornament, the Lord Chamberlain was, for the 231 years to 1968, the state’s censor in the theatre.
He (invariably he), along with a team of play readers, was able to change the text – famously returning scripts annotated with blue pencil – or prevent the showing of any play in the country designed for public audiences altogether if, in his view, it was fitting for “the preservation of good manners, and of the public peace to do so.”
Second, to be spotted was the Minister for Internet Safety and Security, a post created the week after the General Election.
Among other laudable and positive policy goals, the holder, Baroness Shields, will be responsible for delivering protection from “extremist” and “harmful” content.
The Conservative Party’s efforts in the last parliament have not been limited to the removal and prevention of illegal content – it attempted to mandate opt-out content filters at the ISP level in 2013.
Under pressure from the government, Britain’s leading ISPs are now required to retain their customer database of usage and presume they also wish content filters to be applied apply unless they explicitly request otherwise.
Thirdly and finally, the Investigatory Powers Bill (formerly known as the Communications Data Bill).
The bill contains provisions to monitor not just the information about a given communication (who sent it, to whom, from where and when it was sent) but the communication itself.
It also strengthens the powers of Ofcom to deal with broadcasters airing anything “extremist”.
The working definition of extremism is that which undermines “British values” (or, to borrow the phrase, the public peace).
The category of broadcasters, it bears mentioning, now includes on-demand services.
The Queen’s Speech this year puts these otherwise disparate developments into a theme for government.
The sum may have more profound consequences than the parts, as they indicate a direction of travel toward greater regulation.
Those of us concerned with constructive Internet regulation, guaranteeing freedom and prosperous industry, should perhaps keep half an eye on the stationery orders of the office of the Lord Chamberlain – and indeed the Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – for any increase in the number of blue pencils. It may be an acid test for future developments.
3 Jun 2015: Access Partnership has expertise in many areas of government relations and regulatory affairs. (accesspartnership.com)