Skip to main content

Future of the BBC: Terms of reference

22 October 2013

New Inquiry: The Future of the BBC

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee is holding an inquiry into the BBC ahead of its current Royal Charter ending in December 2016. The Royal Charter is the constitutional basis for the BBC. It sets out the public purposes of the BBC, guarantees its independence, and outlines the duties of the Trust and the Executive Board. It is supplemented by an Agreement with the Secretary of State that sits alongside the Charter, which provides detail on many of the topics outlined in the Charter and also covers the BBC’s funding and its regulatory duties.

Since the last Charter renewal in 2006, the communications and media environment has evolved significantly, with an abundance of content, platforms and services accessed by an increasing number of people. Yet the popularity of traditional television and radio services remains strong. The Committee will consider the BBC beyond 2016 and invites written submissions on any of the following questions:

  • What should the BBC be for and what should be the purpose of public service broadcasting?


  • How well has the BBC performed in the current Charter period in achieving its mission and public purposes?

    Are the public purposes in the current Charter the right ones? How might they change?

  • What scope, scale and remit should the BBC have?

    Should the BBC’s output and services be provided to any greater or lesser degree for particular audiences?

    What balance should be struck in what the BBC produces in-house, commissions externally and leaves entirely to others to create?

  • How have the BBC’s commercial activities during the current Charter fitted with the BBC’s public purposes and have they achieved an adequate return for licence fee payers? What should be the aims, scope and scale of such activities beyond 2016?

  • What role should the BBC play in developing technology and new ways of distributing content?

  • How should the BBC be funded beyond 2016?

    Is there a case for distributing funding for public service content more widely beyond the BBC?

    What comparisons can be made with the provision of public service content in other countries?

  • How should the BBC be governed, regulated and held accountable beyond 2016?

    In a constantly evolving communications environment, does a 10-year Royal Charter and Agreement with the Secretary of State, together, provide the most appropriate constitutional framework for the BBC?

How to respond

As part of a scheme to encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, the Committee is piloting a new web portal for online submissions of written evidence. Written submissions should therefore be sent via the “Future of the BBC” inquiry page of our website. Submissions should be received by Friday 6 December 2013.

Further information

The current BBC Royal Charter will expire at the end of 2016. The BBC’s Royal Charter states that “The BBC exists to serve the public interest” and that its main object is the promotion of the following Public Purposes:

  • sustaining citizenship and civil society;
  • promoting education and learning;
  • stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
  • representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities;
  • bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK; and
  • promoting its other purposes, helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services and, in addition, taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television.