The Lib-Con coalition is to force the
BBC to open
its books to unfettered examination by the National Audit Office.
A clause in the coalition agreement promises to “give the NAO full access to
the BBC’s accents to ensure transparency”.
The undertaking marks the end of a campaign run for several years by the
Commons’ Public Accounts Committee, fuelled in part by frustration on the part
of successive comptrollers and auditor generals at having to seek the agreement
of BBC managers to their proposals for a limited number of value for money
In future the broadcaster will be subject to audit from top to bottom, in a
way BBC bosses have fought to avoid on the technical ground that they were
spending licence-payers’ money for which they were responsible to listeners and
viewers first through their governors and now to the BBC Trust, and they do not
receive tax money voted by Parliament.
But the move has far wider political ramifications.
Media magnate Rupert Murdoch has previously complained that the scope of the
BBC’s activities, particularly in the areas of archive material and the
internet, have undermined the commercial activities of companies like his own
The Lib Dems were strong in support of the BBC and its current range of
activities but conceded the need for more accountability.
The Tories’ hope is that data about the extent to which licence fee money is
used to pay for activities some might consider “commercial” will strengthen
their hand in calling for curbs.
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