The UK government has officially launched the mid-term Charter Review into the BBC, with a focus on whether the corporation is representing people from working class backgrounds.
Accompanying the review, which comes five years into the BBC’s 10-year charter, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has issued a “legal duty” for the organization to reflect under-represented voices and promote greater diversity of opinion, including a target for 25% of staff to come from lower socio-economic backgrounds and the delivery of 1,000 apprenticeships within three years.
One of the government’s key criticisms of the BBC has been its inability to reflect the voices of Britain’s smaller towns, with a focus on more metropolitan areas such as London, Manchester and Glasgow. The criticism feeds into the government’s so-called “Levelling Up” agenda to improve “left-behind” areas of Britain.
Other updates via Dorries’ “legal directive” include a target for the BBC to spend 50% of its overall program budget on TV shows outside of London by 2027, a target that it already achieves.
The move is the first time in 12 years the BBC’s Framework Agreement has been updated during a Charter period, and the first update since the current Charter began in 2017.
The review will also look at how the BBC is complying with editorial standards, staff diversity and its market impact on other industries, especially from commercial outfit BBC Studios.
Dorries said: “This review will build on our recent progress to make the BBC more accountable to those who fund it, level up people’s access to the job opportunities it offers and ensure it continues to work in the best interest of the public.”
Dorries is also kicking off a review into the BBC’s future funding model in July, with the potential to do away with the licence fee by 2027.
BBC bosses Tim Davie and Richard Sharp signalled earlier this week that they are “open minded” about the future of the fee as long as the corporation can continue delivering value for audiences.