The BBC is established by Royal Charter, rather than an Act of Parliament. It was first incorporated by Royal Charter in 1927, with subsequent renewals running for various periods of five, ten, twelve and fifteen years. The current Charter, Broadcasting: Copy of Royal Charter for the Continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation, was laid before Parliament in October 2006. It came into effect in January 2007 and will run until 31 December 2016. The Charter sets out the public purposes of the BBC, guarantees its independence and provides the duties of the BBC Trust and Executive Board, which form its governance structure. It also makes provision for a Framework Agreement to be made between the Secretary of State and Director-General. This agreement provides more detail about those topics set out in the Charter but also those that are not, such as funding and its regulatory duties. The current Agreement, Broadcasting: An Agreement Between Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the British Broadcasting Corporation, was laid before Parliament in July 2006.
On 16 July 2015, John Whittingdale, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, announced to the House of Commons that the Government had published a green paper as a first step towards the BBC’s Charter renewal. Mr Whittingdale told MPs that the BBC Charter Review would consider four key questions:
• What is the overall purpose of the BBC?
• What services and content should the BBC provide?
• How should the BBC be funded?
• How should the BBC be governed and regulated?