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Dartford MP Gareth Johnson welcomes BBC reforms

PUBLISHED: 12:28 16 May 2016 | UPDATED: 12:28 16 May 2016

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson describes himself as a 'critical friend' of the BBC

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson describes himself as a 'critical friend' of the BBC

Archant

A white paper on the BBC’s future was unveiled by the government last week

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has welcomed the government’s planned reforms of the BBC, which were unveiled by culture secretary John Whittingdale last week.

Mr Johnson, who is a former chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for the BBC, said the changes would not undermine the broadcaster’s independence.

The most controversial reform in the government’s white paper was the abolition of the BBC Trust and its replacement with a new board of between 12 and 14 members, six of whom will be appointed by the government.

Ofcom, which currently regulates the BBC’s commercial rivals, will become the corporation’s external regulator.

Mr Johnson said: ““The BBC at its best is a fantastic programme maker - probably the best in the world - and there is a lot that it deserves credit for. It helps to promote the country all aroung the world, but it also needs to be accountable,

“By the very fact that its regulator will move to Ofcom it will have an independent regulator, which means it will remain an independent broadcasting corporation.”

The white paper also outlined plans for greater scrutiny of the BBC’s wage packets, with the corporation required to publish the names of staff who earn more than £450,000 a year.

The MP said: “We have to recognise that the BBC is in a unique position, and there needs to be greater transparency with the BBC because of the way it is financed - and that is something the BBC needs to accept.”

The white paper emphasises a need for the broadcaster to promote diversity and focus on distinctive, high-quality and impartial programming.

However, some rumoured changes, including top-slicing the BBC’s funding and forcing it to refrain from airing shows at times that would compete with its commercial rivals, did not appear.

Mr Johnson said that he sees himself as a ‘critical friend’ of the corporation and praised the role it plays in raising standards across the board.

“The high quality of its programme-making brings up the standards of other broadcasters, so the viewer has benefited from that set up,” he added.

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