Davies vows to oppose Ofcom control over BBC

Davies:new role for governors

BBC chairman Gavyn Davies has warned he will oppose any Government move to bring the corporation under the control of Ofcom, the new media regulator.

At his first meeting with the Commons’ media select committee Davies told MPs that backstop powers to intervene if self-regulation failed should stay with the Media Secretary and not be transferred to Ofcom.

His comments come after Chris Smith, who as Media Secretary helped write the Communications White Paper, revealed he’d had second thoughts about regulation of the BBC and has urged his successor, Tessa Jowell, to transfer powers to Ofcom.

Davies said the original proposals in the White Paper should be followed through and that as the BBC operated in the public interest, with no shareholders, responsibility for regulation should remain with the governors, with the Media Secretary retaining powers to intervene.

Davies also revealed the BBC would be announcing changes in the role of governors within a month.

Channel 4 managing director David Scott told MPs the BBC should face the same regulation as other broadcasters and that leaving the corporation outside the new system "can only diminish the significance of broadcast content expertise as a central part of Ofcom’s remit".

lCommittee chairman Gerald Kaufman said director general Greg Dyke was living in "fantasyland" in his belief that the BBC will retain its near 30 per cent audience share, even when all homes are able to receive digital channels. Kaufman warned that his committee would launch an inquiry into the future of the BBC before its licence funding is due for renewal in 2006.

By David Rose

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