Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Too many secrets at the BBC!

Whilst it is worrying that the Commons culture, media and sport committee recommended that the BBC should "reduce its content" and "called for the licence fee too be scrapped", its report did say that the corporation should "prepare for the possibility of a change", but not until the 2020s. What, perhaps, is more of an immediate concern is the fact that the same committee sees the need to recommend that the National Audit Office , the government auditor, should have "unrestricted access" to the BBC`s financial accounts. Surely it should not be possible for a state-owned, taxpayer-funded organisation, annually in receipt of approximately £4bn of public money, to refuse for its accounts to be properly audited? An important question has to be answered: what is it that the BBC wants kept secret
      Back in 2012 there was a furore over the BBC`s paying of staff through personal service companies, enabling both tax avoidance for the employees, and reduced National Insurance liabilities for the Beeb. Now, of course, there is the link between the BBC chair, Rona Fairhead, and HSBC`s current tax problem; she was in charge of the bank`s audit and risk committee from May 2007, having responsibility for governance and compliance across the global bank. There is also the small matter of the BBC`s sale of Television Centre in west London to a consortium, which was described by Margaret Hodge as "clearly a tax avoidance scheme".
      There clearly is a need for an urgent debate about the BBC at the moment, probably more important than whether the licence fee should be covering the iPlayer! 
      The public has a right to know the exact details of where its money goes and how much tax is failing to reach the Treasury!

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