HC Deb 25 January 2001 vol 361 cc697-8W
Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the significant differences between the consultation paper relating to approvals of new BBC public services and the final guidelines issued. [147175]

Janet Anderson

The significant difference between the draft guidelines and the final, published version is that we clarified the first section on the BBC's obligations under the Royal Charter and Agreement, including when consultation and fresh approval is required. We also extended from 15 to 20 working days the normal period for consultation on BBC proposals.

Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he intends to carry out his priority review of BBC News 24. [147174]

Janet Anderson

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will make an announcement about the timing of the review of BBC News 24 and of the other reviews in due course, but will expect to begin the programme later this year.

Mr. Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will list the criteria he intends to use to determine whether new BBC public service channels will be approved. [147173]

Janet Anderson

The criteria are set out in the guidelines for assessing BBC public service proposals which were published on 10 January. Copies were placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Mr. Woolas

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he will appoint the independent person to carry out the review of the BBC's fair trading policies; and if he will make a statement. [147738]

Mr. Chris Smith

In its response to the Davies panel's report on the future funding of the BBC, the Government announced that they would, jointly with the BBC, invite an independent, eminent figure to examine the BBC documentation "Commercial Policy Guidelines and the Fair Trading Commitment". Richard Whish, Professor of Law at King's College, London, has today been appointed to carry out the review. Professor Whish will report to my Department and to the BBC Board of Governors having:

  1. (i) reviewed the adequacy of the BBC's "Fair Trading Commitment";
  2. (ii) considered and commented on the adequacy of each of the specific requirements contained in the BBC's "Commercial Policy Guidelines" and whether any further specific requirement should be included;
  3. (iii) considered to what extent the BBC's fair trading policies are consistent with upholding EU Competition Law.
  4. (iv) commented on how the BBC's policies compare with those of any other relevant organisations;
  5. (v) commented on the processes through which the BBC Board of Governors are made aware of fair trading issues and the nature of the information provided to them to enable the Governors to be satisfied that all significant issues facing the BBC are appropriately set out in the "Annual Report and Accounts"; and
  6. (vi) reviewed existing correspondence from stakeholders to the BBC and DCMS about the adequacy of the BBC's "Fair Trading Commitment", and to comment on the validity of the points made and highlight any other perceived shortcomings.

Professor Whish is also requested to make any general recommendations for improving the BBC's commitment to fair trading.

The review will commence shortly and will be concluded during February. The Department and the BBC will publish Professor Whish's findings. Copies of the terms of reference for the review have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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