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A new head of the BBC appointed in the face of our petition

Last week, OurKingdom launched a petition asking that the new Director General of the BBC be appointed transparently and openly. Today a closed-door decision was made. Have they learned anything?

Well, we gave them a fright!

On Sunday 11th November, Chris Patten announced that the BBC Trust would appoint yet another Director General to run the most important cultural and current affairs institution in the land, “within weeks”. We thought, “Hell no, not another old boy fix”. OurBeeb decided to call for any candidates who the BBC Trust considered to first publish a short statement of their vision and principles for the public.

  • It is not just that the Director General is a public office, earning over three times the Prime Minister’s salary.
  • It is not just that the BBC needs to be accountable to the public.
  • It is also that independent public service broadcasting is essential for a democracy.

We want the BBC to flourish, and be strong enough to defend itself from its obvious enemies. To do so, it must be open and accountable, and headed by someone who can speak out in a digital age and will answer to the public.

We launched a petition on the 15th calling for an open and transparent appointment. It got favourable media coverage including in The Guardian and the Evening Standard. Stephen Fry, Brian Eno, Juliet Stevenson, Quentin Letts and Suzanne Moore all backed us. MPs said they would support us. The Director of the Trust answered our request for a meeting saying "of course" he had heard of it - but that they wanted to appoint  “very quickly”. 

Our campaign is now over. But it is continuing to make an impact. We wish Tony Hall the best of luck as the incoming boss of the BBC and OurBeeb will seek to engage with him. This is a new start for the BBC, and a new chance for the Corporation to really belong to, and work for, the public. 

For this to happen, we need a public debate on the Corporation. That's why on 10 December we are holding a meeting about the future of the BBC at the Café Oto in Dalston. Do join us! Advance tickets are on sale

And for those who signed, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Together, we gave them a fright. Now let's make sure it is not forgotten.

About the author

OurKingdom is the British section of openDemocracy. 


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