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BBC John Whittingdale UK Government

Minister’s set to rebel against plans to re-write BBC’s ‘to inform, educate and entertain’ mission statement

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By John Glenday, Reporter

May 11, 2016 | 3 min read

Government ministers are set rebel over plants to rewrite the BBC’s founding principles in order to mould a broadcaster that is less obsessed with chasing ratings and more inclined to be ‘distinctive’ and ‘impartial’.

When established in 1922 the BBC’s stated mission was ‘to inform, educate and entertain’ but this now looks set to be augmented, according to reports in The Telegraph.

Culture secretary John Whittingdale is keen to distinguish the public service provider from its commercial rivals and will thus rewrite the statement to bind the broadcaster into providing ‘impartial, distinctive content that informs, educates and entertains.’

The changed emphasis is designed to curtail the import of US formats such as The Voice although generic entertainment shows such as The Great British Bake Off and Strictly Come Dancing are likely to escape unscathed.

The BBC is bracing itself for radical change ahead of the introduction of a new 11-year Royal Charter which will entail significant changes to its governance and transparency as well as the distribution of £3.7bn in license fee income.

However, some Conservative MPs are threatening to rebel against a controversial white paper if it is seen to infringe upon the BBC’s editorial independence, according to reports in the Guardian.

Speaking to the paper, former Home Office minister Damien Green predicted a back bench rebellion over any move to interfere with the broadcaster’s ability to choose content or fill its board with government appointees.

Green said: “My red line is independence. The BBC needs to take its own decisions on scheduling and the government needs to make it clear that the people making decisions at the BBC are not being run by the government of the day, whatever government it is.

“We are waiting anxiously to see what’s in the white paper... and hoping that these so-called leaks may be more scary than the real thing.”

MPs fret that an ideological tussle between Whittingdale and the BBC has gone too far and that a compromise needs to be struck between the two sides but their ability to intervene may prove limited, as the royal charter is ultimately a direct agreement between the culture secretary alone and the BBC.

The white paper is expected to be published tomorrow (Thursday 11 May).

BBC John Whittingdale UK Government

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