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This week’s editor

Alex Sakalis, Editor

Alex Sakalis is associate editor of openDemocracy and co-edits the Can Europe Make It? page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The selection process which led to the appointment of George Entwistle as the next Director General of the BBC was debated and carried out behind closed doors, with the public having no input in the decision making process. Given the influence of this paramount position, how might the process be handled differently in the future? Is the traditional role of the Director General – as creative leader, editorial boss and executive manager – still best carried out by a single individual? What of the role of selection committee? How are its members selected? What are the potential alternatives to a centralised model?

Programming too is determined by these debates, and the question of what we mean by ‘public interest’ regarding the BBC’s content is one that needs closer scrutiny than ever. The received image of Radio 4 as ‘an old boys club’ is pertinent to many, while the specialist broadcasting that has long been lauded as the institution’s great strength frequently fails to employ, engage and appeal to its diverse audience.

As the UK’s media is increasingly transformed by blogs and citizen journalism, ourBeeb asks how the BBC can respond in turn, as a means of innovating, engaging and establishing democratic credibility.

Is the BBC safe in Ofcom’s hands?

Ofcom may soon regulate the BBC, yet we know it already struggles to treat the public as citizens and not just consumers.

The BBC White Paper is a recipe for long-term decline

The government’s proposals would be a blow to both the BBC's freedom from government interference, and its place at the heart of British popular culture.

Decoding the BBC White Paper

Apocalyptic rumours followed by a row-back and relief. It's an age-old strategy, but what's the reality behind the government's BBC proposals?

Muslims in the media: a call to UK editors

The British press is failing to meet the highest standards in its presentation of Muslims. In a sea of stereotypes, journalists and the public must educate themselves about the facts beyond the headlines. 

Diversity on TV: a discussion with Lenny Henry

Following the BBC's commitment to new diversity targets, we publish the footage of a discussion about diversity on TV with Lenny Henry, Pat Younge, Dawn Foster and Bev Skeggs. 

#BlackLivesMatter in Britain too: why does our media care less?

The UK media seems more comfortable talking about race issues in America than those closer to home. It is the BBC’s responsibility to challenge these double standards. 

On Whittingdale and the power of press silence

The ability of the British press to effectively suppress a scandal speaks volumes about the dangers of concentrated media.

The Whittingdale file: a plea for better journalism

It's a mystery as to why the national newspapers chose not to expose a juicy story about the UK culture secretary. But claiming that his policies were 'influenced' by the 'suppression' of the story is pure conjecture.

On the new British 'popular'

The fight over the BBC is also a struggle over what it means, in the UK, to be ‘popular’. In other words, who are the people?

Caught in a Brexit bromance

The referendum on British membership of the EU has important implications for gender equality, but despite attempts at 'suffragette-washing' the debate, women's voices are failing to break through.

Here’s how we mutualise the BBC

Two MPs proposed this week that the BBC become a mutual organization. Dave Boyle sets out how this could be done in practice.

‘Red-tape’ is at the heart of the BBC’s democratic remit

The so-called ‘sharing economy’ is composed largely of opaque shoddily managed companies. Rather than mimicking these models, the BBC must make the case for improving and developing its much-lamented bureaucracy.   

The proposal for government appointees threatens BBC independence

The Director General of the BBC warns that the proposal by Sir David Clementi to have the government appoint the BBC Chairman and half the board could pose a threat to the corporation's independence.

The Clementi Review must strengthen BBC independence

Sir David Clementi’s recommendations on BBC governance must be made to work. This means ensuring that Ofcom doesn’t become a ‘back seat driver’.

Brexit and the BBC: a tough call for Britain's culture secretary?

Given his very public role in the anti-EU campaign, John Whittingdale must be seen to be scrupulously fair in the debate over the BBC's future.

Channel 4: the case for privatisation

Privatisation may be the best way to strengthen Channel 4's public service remit.

Towards better broadcasting in Wales

Public service broadcasting in Wales is on a knife-edge and there are loud demands for reform. The response will cast light on whether Wales is genuinely seen as a full partner within the UK.

The BBC's Northern Irish Troubles

From its inception as an unabashedly ‘unionist’ organization, the BBC in Belfast has had a problematic history. Has the corporation of today managed to shake off the dilemmas of the past?

What can we learn from 50 years of British-Asian TV?

As the BBC celebrates half a decade of British Asian broadcasting, we look back at a journey of cultural integration that shines a spotlight on the present.

Does the BBC care about class?

The BBC has made a concerted effort to reflect the diversity of Britain when it comes to race and gender. They should apply the same approach to socio-economic background.

The BBC needs a new Scottish channel

Why isn't there a digital Scottish channel for the 5 million Scots who speak English? Such a move could start to heal the wounds between Scotland and the BBC.

A radical proposal to preserve the BBC’s independence

To safeguard the BBC’s independence decisions over the Licence Fee should be taken away from politicians and handed over to a new independent statutory body.

Truth and the BBC

The BBC was profoundly damaged by the Blair government's successful attack upon it over Iraq. Since then its senior managers have regarded truth as something to be handled not investigated. Could this loss of integrity underly its recent disasters?

Three things to bear in mind about Jimmy Savile and one about the BBC

The only way the BBC can adequately address the crisis it is mired in is to heed ourBeeb's calls to transform itself into an institution that belongs and is accountable to the public who trust, admire and pay for it.

Savile, the perfect storm

A candid and compelling piece from Jean Seaton, the official historian of the BBC, on why the Savile affair is the perfect storm for the Corporation.

Governance and accountability at the BBC: the lessons from the Savile affair

The Jimmy Savile scandal has illuminated deep cracks in the BBC’s governance. A culture of immunity and blame shifting must now be faced head on for the sake of the victims and the future of the corporation. 

The BBC: above reproach, or beyond reach?

How well do the BBC's publicly stated methods of accountability stand up? They were recently outlined by the BBC Trust here on ourBeeb; Dan Hind delves beneath the rhetoric and finds a consistent lack of clarity and openness.

Savile-gate: George Entwistle's first big test

The BBC’s decision to broadcast two tributes to Jimmy Savile while shelving a Newsnight investigation into allegations of sexual offences was a serious error of judgement. George Entwistle must now deploy the broadcaster’s considerable resources to establish what really happened and face up to his own culpability. 

Time to elect the BBC Trust?

In the wake of the ourBeeb NHS report, how do we create accountability in the BBC? Few licence fee payers know about or understand the audience councils or the role of the BBC Trust - is it time to end government appointments and have BBC elections?

The BBC and the NHS Act: the fall-out, and a response from the Beeb

Oliver Huitson's landmark investigation of the BBC's coverage of the Health and Social Care Bill for ourBeeb saw a phenomenal response. Now the BBC responds to the report - but is their defence good enough?

From service reviews to audience councils: how accountable is the BBC Trust?

Against a common accusation that the BBC is unaccountable, Diane Coyle, Vice-Chairman of the BBC Trust, explains the mechanisms that are in place to register feedback and stimulate public conversation. But how effective are these procedures? 

Editor's blog: £3m for Clarkson, £42m for CBeebies - how the BBC spends its money

There are some fascinating insights into how much each BBC channel costs, and how they're paid for, in the Annual Report. But should we be so obsessed with cost in public service broadcasting to begin with?

Life after Leveson: teaching Auntie how to suck eggs

Leveson has illuminated deep democratic problems at the heart of the British media. Far from immune to this culture, the BBC needs to learn from the inquiry and actively assert its independence. 

Editor's blog: "we want to hear your views" - focus groups, feedback and the BBC

We publish the response to a recently filed ourBeeb Freedom of Information request on the BBC's little-known Audience Councils and its other feedback mechanisms. Are these focus groups and 'market research' surveys sufficient? If not, how might they be improved?

ourBeeb podcast 1: Claire Enders, Britain's leading media analyst

The first audio highlights of an ourBeeb discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing the BBC, featuring the CEO of Enders Analysis.

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