Hall issuing BBC independence warning

Lord Hall
Image caption Lord Hall is calling for a "transparent process"

Proposals to allow greater government say over the running of the BBC risk it being seen as a state broadcaster, BBC director general Tony Hall is to say.

His comments follow an independent review which recommends replacing the BBC Trust with a board of directors, half appointed by government ministers.

BBC's TV controller Charlotte Moore has also said she "didn't recognise" claims BBC One had become less distinctive.

Lord Hall will make his speech on Tuesday morning in London.

Image caption Charlotte Moore's role was expanded in January to controller of BBC TV channels and iPlayer

Ms Moore, the BBC's controller of TV channels and iPlayer, was making her first speech in the role on Monday at the launch of a batch of new programmes.

She responded to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale's comments that the BBC had become much like its commercial rivals in some of its TV offering, citing especially entertainment programmes such as The Voice, which was recently bought by ITV.

Mr Whittingdale called for the creation of a "more distinctive" BBC after an in-depth review of the broadcaster's services said that BBC One had become "less innovative and less risk-taking".

But Ms Moore, whose role was expanded in January, said: "I don't recognise – and more importantly neither does the public recognise – what the secretary of state said about BBC One.

"I'm not sure how much more distinctive the last few weeks could have been – with new shows like The Night Manager, our mental health season, David Attenborough's Giant Dinosaur, Dickensian, War and Peace – not to mention the return of Happy Valley."

Lord Hall will address the Media & Telecoms 2016 & Beyond Conference, saying he welcomed a "transparent and independent process" in deciding the future governance of the corporation.

His speech will be in response to an independent report by Sir David Clementi, which also recommended shifting oversight of the BBC to the independent media regulator Ofcom.

'Key decisions'

Lord Hall says he largely welcomes the idea but he will set out his concerns about plans for the chairman, vice-chairman and four non-executive directors of the proposed BBC board to be appointed by the government.

Sir David Clementi said his proposals would mean "half the board or slightly above half would be appointed independently" and that "once appointed, all directors must act in the best interests of the BBC… and uphold the BBC's editorial independence".

Lord Hall will say: "Unlike any previous governing body, this unitary board is the very board that will set the editorial direction of the whole BBC.

"It will make key decisions on programmes and services, and it will work with me – as editor-in-chief – on how we manage our impartial journalism.

"It doesn't feel to me that these tasks should be undertaken by government-appointed board members. The BBC is one of the world's great public service broadcasters – not a state broadcaster."

He will add: "When it comes to appointing the members to the new unitary board – the BBC's editorial board – we will be arguing for a transparent and independent process, at arm's-length from the government.

Lord Hall has also repeated his call for the review of BBC charters to be carried out on an 11-year cycle to avoid discussion of the corporation's future coinciding with election campaigns.

The Clementi report is being considered by Mr Whittingdale, who is drawing up the government's forthcoming proposals for the BBC's next charter.