The BBCs director general Mark Thomson has criticised culture secretary Ben BradshawÂs attack on the role of the BBC Trust at the RTS Cambridge Convention.
Speaking in response to BradshawÂs comments that one body cannot be both governing body and regulator, Thomson pointed out the governmentÂs role in creating the Trust. ÂBen should ask this question of those colleagues of his in the present Cabinet who invented the BBC Trust, approved it and enshrined it in a Charter which still has well over seven more years to run,Â he said. ÂThey believed Â as I believe Â that the present settlement, with most formal regulation discharged by Ofcom and other regulatory authorities, but with the Trust safeguarding the interests of the public, the proper use of the licence fee and the editorial and political independence of the BBC is a foundation on which real public confidence can be built.Â Thomson said the government should not make threats of abolishing independent governing bodies for taking different views to the government.
The real issues facing broadcasting concern the Ârange and qualityÂ of content available to people, Thomson said. ÂThe millions of people who will switch on Strictly or X Factor this Saturday donÂt terribly care about the finer points of governance, let alone different flavours of NAO access to the BBC,Â he said.
Thomson also criticised Lord CarterÂs proposals for top-slicing the licence fee, saying that such a move would be Âbad for independence and for accountabilityÂ. Taxing spectrum could be a viable alternative, he said, but added that the government needs to think more creatively about the range of local and regional activities it wants to support. ÂIs a replication of the current ITV provision Â close to a mirror-image of the BBC service Â really what this country needs in a post-switchover world?Â Thomson said.