A report by the influential House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee has criticised the BBC Executive for its lack of transparency. The cross-party committee was told that it could not be provided with the annual budget for the free-to-air satellite venture for “reasons of commercial confidentiality”.
The committee noted that the new governing body, the BBC Trust, had approved Freesat on the basis that it represented “good value for money” and said although it may be reasonable to withhold information on commercial grounds the committee believed it was “not reasonable to withhold information about the contribution of the licence fee payer”.
The committee was critical of the BBC’s responses over issues that also included the salaries of star presenters and the management of broadcast spectrum. “Overall, we are disappointed with the manner in which the BBC has approached its response to our questions. We hope that in future years the BBC will provide a more robust response which makes clear where accountability lies for particular issues, and that the BBC takes advantage of its new governance arrangements to take a more constructive approach to responding to Parliamentary scrutiny,” said the report.
The committee was chaired by John Whittingdale MP (Conservative) and took evidence from Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman, BBC Trust, Mark Thompson, Director-General, BBC Executive and Zarin Patel, Group Finance Director, BBC Executive.