I was a BBC Governor. I can’t discern much difference between the remit of the new Trust and the old Governors. I don’t think that governance structure lies at the heart of the current problems faced by the BBC. Trust or Governors, both can very well regulate and be cheerleaders: after all, doesn’t every school governing body etc. do the same? I think the reason why payments appear to have got out of hand is the nature of the people involved in setting the sums. I remember that governors were consulted annually about the size of the bonuses given to the heads of the various departments of the BBC, including heads of radio and TV programmes. I said, why do they get bonuses? this is not a business where they have to make a profit, it is public service, where bonuses are not expected. I was told, “Ruth, you academics are so badly paid, you have no idea about money”. I replied, there are more people out there like me than you. So I suggest the BBC should not have bankers, financiers, captains of industry on its Trust or dominating its financial committees, because the sums they are hardened to are not ones appropriate to the BBC. Sometimes in general we are prone to venerate those who have been ultra successful in business, when they are not necessarily the right men to run other institutions and ventures.
It would be a terrible blow to the BBC’s independence to place it any further under the regulation of OFCOM. First because OFCOM is full of ex-BBC people with baggage and conflicts of interest. And second, independence is best protected by regulators who are not thinking about the next better job, but have reached the peak of their careers, have nothing to prove and are therefore able to be fearless in standing up to executives or ministers and protecting the BBC’s stature. Appointing the right people matters much more than the structure.