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The BBC’s current Royal Charter came into effect in January 2007 and is due to expire on 31 December 2016. This short briefing concentrates on recent developments in the Charter review process and the expected next steps. Two longer briefings—House of Commons Library, BBC Charter Renewal, 3 March 2016; and House of Lords Library, BBC: Future Financing and Independence, 3 September 2015—provide further detail on the issues surrounding the process and the BBC’s response to date.

In July 2015, the Government published a green paper, BBC Charter Review: Public Consultation, which set out four broad issues for public discussion: the BBC’s mission, purpose and values; the scale and scope of the BBC’s services and operations; the way in which the BBC is funded; and the BBC’s governance and accountability. The consultation closed in October 2015, having received 192,000 responses. The summary of consultation responses was published on 1 March 2016, alongside two other reports commissioned by the Government: A Review of the Governance and Regulation of the BBC, an independent review led by Sir David Clementi; and BBC Television, Radio and Online Services: An Assessment of Market Impact and Distinctiveness written by independent media consultants. The Clementi Review recommended that regulatory oversight of the BBC should be passed wholly to Ofcom and that the BBC should have a unitary Board made up with a majority of non-executive directors.  The market assessment report argued that “greater distinctiveness in the BBC’s mainstream services than is currently the case could not just have a positive impact on the commercial market but also positive net market impact”.

A Government white paper containing specific proposals for the future of the BBC is expected in the first half of 2016, although some concerns have been expressed about the feasibility of concluding the process before the current Charter expires at the end of the year.

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