BBC Annual Report 2008-09 - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents


1  Introduction


1. The BBC Annual Report and Accounts for 2008-09 is the third to be published under the current Royal Charter ("the Charter") and Agreement between the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the BBC ("the Agreement"). The Charter and Agreement set out governance arrangements for the BBC, including the establishment of an independent BBC Trust, which has responsibility for setting the overall strategic direction of the BBC, and a separate Executive Board with responsibility for delivering the BBC's services in accordance with the priorities set by the BBC Trust.

2. On 16 July 2009, we held an oral evidence session with the BBC on its Annual Report and Accounts for 2008-09 ("the Annual Report"). We took evidence from Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, and from Mark Thompson, Director General, and Zarin Patel, Director of Finance, BBC Executive. We carried out a similar scrutiny exercise on each of the previous BBC Annual Report and Accounts published under the current Charter and Agreement, publishing a short Report on both occasions.[1]

3. The Committee covered a range of issues and questions at the July 2009 oral evidence session. In a number of instances, however, the BBC's replies were not as complete as we would have liked or raised additional points that merited follow-up. There were also questions that we were unable to raise in the limited time of the session. We therefore wrote to the BBC on 3 September 2009 with further questions about its Annual Report and Accounts and matters raised at the oral evidence session. On 4 December 2009, the BBC submitted its response to these questions. Our follow-up questions and the BBC's responses are attached to this Report.[2]

4. In March 2010, after the conclusion of our correspondence with the BBC, the BBC Trust published the BBC Strategy Review,[3] which discusses what the future direction of the BBC ought to be in the remainder of this Charter period. As we did not take evidence on the Strategy Review the Committee is not yet in a position to comment in detail on its proposals.

BBC response to the Committee's report on the BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08

5. When we published our Report on the BBC Annual Accounts for 2007-08,[4] the BBC Trust immediately released a press statement in response. It stated that "The Trust [...] does not accept the findings on the Trust's consideration of Project Kangaroo",[5] and promised "The Trust will submit a full response to the select committee in due course and at that time respond to all of its conclusions and recommendations."[6]

6. No such response was received, however. We raised this matter with Sir Michael Lyons during the 2008-09 Annual Report session, and he promised that "we will fill that gap as a matter of urgency."[7] We did not in fact receive the response until 4 December 2009, nearly five months after Sir Michael's assurance and more than ten months after the publication of our Report on the BBC Annual Report 2007-08. It is incorporated into the BBC's response to our written follow-up questions for the 2008-09 Annual Report session, and is published as part of this Report.[8]

7. We are disappointed that the BBC Trust, having made a public statement rejecting some of the Committee's findings and undertaken to submit a full response to our conclusions and recommendations in respect of the 2007-08 Annual Report, did not provide that response for nearly a year.


1   Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2007-08, BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2006-07, HC 235; Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2008-09, BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08, HC 190 Back

2   Ev 26 Back

3   BBC Trust, BBC Strategy Review, March 2010 Back

4   Culture, Media and Sport Committee's Fourth Report of Session 2008-09, BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08, HC 190 Back

5   "Statement from the BBC Trust in response to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee's report into the BBC's Annual Report 2007-08", BBC Trust press release, 28 January 2009 Back

6   "Statement from the BBC Trust in response to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee's report into the BBC's Annual Report 2007-08", BBC Trust press release, 28 January 2009 Back

7   Q 119 Back

8   Ev 26 Back


 
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Prepared 30 March 2010