Sir Christopher Bland, who chaired the BBC from 1996-2001 – when the hated John ’dalek’ Birt was director general – has waded into the discussion about who should become new Chairman of the BBC trustees. .
According to the Guardian, he suggests that the current problem in finding a successor to Lord Patten, who was forced to resign as chairman for health reasons, is rooted in the structure of the Trustees. The reason? Because under the last set of BBC reforms back in 2006-7, the newly formed Trustees, who succeeded the former Governors, were put at arm’s length from the senior BBC management in order to be ‘independent’.
He says being BBC chairman before the reforms was a much more important job: more directly involved in the management of the Corporation, and he argues that high calibre names are not on the shortlist for the current job because it’s a role not worth taking.
Sir Christopher thus appears to be arguing for the clock to be put back. But surely he misses the main point? The governors were abolished because all too often they took the side of BBC management rather than acting in true public interest.
The problem with the last reforms is rather that they did not go far enough. The current batch of Trustees – as News-watch has repeatedly shown – are from a liberal left background and mindset that mostly echoes that of BBC management, and means that the Corporation is blind to criticism of the bias in its output.
What’s needed now is not a return to those bad old days of Birt and Bland , but a radical restructuring which sees genuinely independent Trustees that ensure that the BBC is properly in touch with public opinion rather than the gilded Metropolitan elite of which Sir Christopher and his ilk are card-carrying members.