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Exchange with Michael Lyons re BBC Trust

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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: Exchange with Michael Lyons re BBC Trust Reply with quote

From: []
Sent: 09 December 2009 16:46
To: Michael Lyons & PA
Subject: question re BBC trust

Hello Mr. Lyons:

You wrote to one Medialens correspondent

"the BBC Trust is charged with representing the interests of licence fee payers. Direct accountability to every single one of them will be something of a challenge!"

Quite true, but wouldn't accountability to MOST of them be greatly enhanced if the trust were elected by the public or selected by lot - like juries?

What are your thoughts about this?
Joe Emersberger

In a message dated 22/12/2009 2:02:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, writes:
Dear Joe,

Thank you for your e-mail following my short chain of correspondence with David Edwards at Medialens and I note your concern regarding the appointment of Trustees.

I hope I can reassure you by explaining briefly the appointment process. BBC Trustees are appointed by HM The Queen on advice from ministers. Posts are advertised and the recruitment process is regulated by the independent Commissioner for Public Appointments. There is an interview process and Trustees are chosen on merit. I believe great care is taken to ensure that successful candidates have the necessary expertise for the role and a strong commitment to the BBC.


From: []
Sent: 22 December 2009 20:40
To: Michael Lyons & PA
Subject: Re: question re BBC trust

Dear Michael
Thank you for responding.
You outlined how the members of the BBC Trust are appointed, but my question was - basically - why should they be appointed? Why not directly elected by the public or even chosen randomly like juries?

What does the BBC trust do that is beyond that technical capacity of the general public?

You mention that "merit" is involved in the selection process for trustees, but the premise of democracy is that people have the right to decision making power to the extent that they are impacted by those decisions. I cannot "deserve" to have more say over decisions that impact you as much - or more - than they impact me.

How can any member of the public deserve more say over the general direction of the BBC? Doesn't the BBC's work impact every British citizen so significantly that one-person-one-vote should apply as it does in the election of parliament?


Dear Joe,

Thanks for your response of 2 December. The important issue is to ensure that the Trust has the confidence and skills necesary to defend the independence of the BBC and to challenge the management to do better for the licence fee payer. Could others do the job well? Of course they could. It's a matter for Parliament how Trustees are chosen. Direct election certainly convers a clear mandate but is not generally used in the UK or abroad for this type of role.

Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:52 pm
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