BBC 'must face NAO scrutiny'

06-12-2007

BBC 'must face NAO scrutiny'
The BBC's failing management of risk means it should be fully scrutinised in future by the National Audit Office (NAO), MPs have said.

A report by the Commons' public accounts committee (PAC) says it would perform better in securing value for money for the taxpayer if it were properly scrutinised like other publicly-funded bodies by the NAO.

The report criticises the BBC for failing to manage risk properly, saying it did not ensure named owners were responsible in over two-thirds of cases and adding such complacency led to the recent Blue Peter phone-in scandal.

A survey found 29 per cent of those responsible for risk management responsibilities had never looked at guidance on the issue and 37 per cent had expressed concern about the problem.

"From the very real threats to the lives of its correspondents in war zones, to the dangers to its reputation of failing to deal fairly with its viewers and listeners, the BBC faces a multiplicity of risks," PAC chairman Edward Leigh said.

"But the Corporation and its managers at all levels are simply not doing enough to manage and anticipate those risks."

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said the need for full NAO scrutiny of the BBC was becoming "more obvious by the day".

"This report suggests that a patchy approach to risk played some part in the recent phone-in scandals - stronger procedures and independent audit may have prevented these damaging breaches in editorial standards," he added.

The BBC Trust defended its current value-for-money procedures in response to the report. It said it consulted with the NAO before conducting its many independent reviews and added it had expanded its relationship with the NAO in recent years.

"This arrangement, enshrined in the BBC's Royal Charter, ensures the Trust meets all its responsibilities to licence fee payers, including safeguarding the BBC's independence," a statement said.

"The BBC welcomed the NAO's recommendations and has taken action in response to enhance its arrangements further."

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