EDINBURGH TV FESTIVAL: Ofcom will not have say in BBC's control, Tessa Jowell insists

The culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, joined the debate on the BBC charter renewal when she insisted the corporation would remain free from government interference.

This will disappoint those broadcasters who wanted the BBC's governance brought under the remit of Ofcom, particularly in the light of the Hutton Inquiry.

While refusing to be drawn on any details, Jowell said: "Charter review will be wide-ranging, open and transparent. However wide-ranging and however radical, there is one thing I'm certain of - at the end of the process, the independence of the BBC from government will remain."

However, there was good news for the BBC's online rivals when Jowell announced a review of BBC online services under the direction of Philip Graf, the former chief executive of Trinity Mirror.

In a separate debate on the process of charter renewal, the broadcaster and aesthete Lord Bragg questioned the BBC's right to be the sole recipient of the licence fee, as ITV, Channel 4 and five have public service requirements.

Steve Hewlett, the director of programmes at Carlton TV, said the BBC was now producing more public service programming as charter renewal approached.

"The BBC is accountable, but only once every ten years," he said.


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