Expert panel appointed to advise on the BBC’s future funding

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Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer. Photo: UK Gov

A panel of leading experts has been invited by the Culture Secretary to provide independent advice and expertise as part of the government-led review looking at future funding models for the BBC. 

The panel includes figures from across the broadcasting and media sectors, including the former chief of ITV Sir Peter Bazalgette; the former chief executive of Channel 5 David Elstein; Dame Frances Cairncross, who led the independent review into press sustainability in 2019; and Siobhan Kenny, the former CEO of commercial radio trade body Radiocentre.

As set out in the terms of reference published today, the panel will assess the sustainability of the BBC’s current licence fee model and examine alternative options for funding the national broadcaster. It will provide expert analysis and advice to DCMS ministers on issues surrounding future funding models, which include identifying the challenges facing the current licence fee and evaluating other options to support the BBC’s services long term. The panel will also explore new ways for the broadcaster to increase commercial income and how it could transition to any potential new funding model. 

The panellists were selected in consultation with the industry, based on their experience and knowledge of issues at the heart of the UK’s media industry and public service broadcasting. Together, they represent a broad range of audience views and interests, including on issues such as international relations, foreign politics and creating content for young audiences.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

The BBC has a unique role in public life, and fulfils an important service in projecting and promoting our values and culture at home and around the world. We want to see it thrive for generations to come.

But in an evolving media landscape, with increased pressure on licence fee payers, it’s right that we take a look at whether the current funding model is fit for the future.

That’s why I’m bringing together leading television, radio and business experts to provide independent advice and valuable insight on future funding models for the BBC, guaranteeing its long term financial sustainability.

The panel will also look at how funding arrangements apply to the BBC World Service and Minority Language Broadcasting in the UK so the broadcaster can continue to provide quality news for domestic and global audiences.

The Culture Secretary and Media Minister Julia Lopez will chair the expert panel meetings, which will take place in-person a minimum of six times over the course of 2024. The first meeting will be held at the end of the month. 

Any final decisions related to the BBC’s funding model will be for the Government to make at the next Charter Review, after taking into consideration the expert panel’s insight and guidance on the evidence provided. The public will be consulted as part of the Charter Review.

The expert panel is one aspect of the Government’s BBC Funding Model Review, which also includes a separate research programme and further engagement with other stakeholders. 

The full membership of the expert panel is as follows:

  • Martin Ivens is the current Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, a weekly literary review published by News UK and was the former Editor of the Sunday Times newspaper. He has experience transforming print media into the digital age. 
  • Sir Peter Bazalgette brings a breadth of public service broadcasting expertise as the former Chairman of ITV and current Co-Chair of the Creative Industries Council.  
  • Siobhan Kenny, the former CEO of Radiocentre and Director of Communications at DCMS, is the CEO of her own consultancy. She has a unique understanding of the UK radio and audio sectors and how different funding models apply. 
  • Dame Frances Cairncross is a respected economic commentator, formerly working as the Management Editor of the Economist, and led the independent Cairncross Review which explored how to secure a sustainable journalism sector in the UK. 
  • David Elstein has extensive experience in broadcasting, serving as Channel 5’s first Chief Executive and chairing media organisation boards including the British Screen Advisory Council and the National School for Film and Television. 
  • Oli Hyatt co-founded and was the former Managing Director of Blue Zoo Productions, creating TV content for young audiences. 
  • Helen Bower Easton has valuable insight of the BBC World Service and foreign policy as the former Director of Communications for FCDO, and is the current Director of Communications for the Financial Conduct Authority. 
  • Amber de Botton worked at Sky News and then was ITV’s Head of UK News and Head of Politics before serving as Downing Street’s Director of Communications.  
  • Lorna Tilbian is the Executive Chairman of investment and wealth management firm Dowgate Capital and former Executive PLC Director at stockbroker Numis Corporation PLC. She has over 30 years of experience working as a media analyst and as an investment banker.

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