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Tide turns against BBC in battle to avert government imposition of board members

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By John Glenday, Reporter

May 10, 2016 | 2 min read

The BBC has expressed fears that its rear-guard action to prevent the government assuming the right to impose board members may come to nought as it appears increasingly likely the measure will be pushed through.

This would see the government allowed to appoint more than half of the members of a revamped board, stoking outrage amongst campaigners that this is tantamount to an infringement on its editorial independence.

Under the present system the BBC is self-governed but a white paper to be published on Thursday is expected to call for this model to be replaced by a 13-member board – seven of whom would be appointed by ministers.

In a last ditch effort to stave off such an eventuality campaigners; backed by famous faces including actors Richard Wilson and Ross Kemp as well as TV presenter June Sarpong, have threatened to take to the streets in protest.

Wilson, best known for his role playing Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave said: “I hope the government will be forced into one of their many U-turns – they are very good at them these days. I don’t think they realise how strong the public feeling is for the BBC. I would march in the streets, I would, as long as they don’t march too far.”

Other nasties in the white paper for the BBC could include an obligation to share license fee revenues with commercial broadcasters and proposals to give the National Audit Office greater authority to investigate the corporation’s activities.

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