Battle over BBC audit hots up

Link: Analysis: Battling for a licence to audit Aunty

An amendment to the Communications Bill, currently in the House of Lords, is to be put forward by the Tories in what many see as a last-ditch effort to have the BBC’s finances audited by the parliamentary spending watchdog.

The move sees the long-running dispute continue after it was given fresh impetus by the 2001 Sharman report, which advised the extension of NAO powers to take in a number of public spending areas, including the BBC.

Efforts in the Lords will be led by Baroness Buscombe, but John Whittingdale, shadow secretary for culture, media and sport, told Accountancy Age that current audit arrangements are ‘not sufficient to give the public confidence that the licence fee is being properly spent’.

Earlier this year, the chairman of the Commons public accounts committee proposed amendments to the communications bill, but those were defeated. Moves in the Lords are expected to take place around the 28 April.

Gavyn Davies, chairman of the BBC’s board of governors, has made it clear that he is opposed to oversight by the NAO. He has been supported by fellow governor Baroness Hogg.

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