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The BBC white paper - what has changed?

Written by Daniel Kirby on 12th May 2016

white paper bbc meaning

A big topic in the media lately has been the government review into the BBC, headed by culture secretary John Whittingdale.

Today the proposals have been revealed, and they come with a variety of implications for the broadcaster and its viewers. Here is a summary of the key points:


The licence fee will increase

Whittingdale annunce that the cost of a licence fee should increase in line with inflation for five years beginning in 2017. However there will be more flexible payment options for lower-income families.

You will have to pay to watch content on iPlayer

The paper explained that 'viewing habits [are] shift[ing] away from linear television' and suggested that those who watch content after it was originally broadcast should contribute to the cost.

Complaints will now be dealt with by Ofcom

The government has proposed that Ofcom become the external regulator of the BBC, as opposed to the BBC Trust which previously existed for this purpose. It has also been announced that a new 'unitary board' will be established, which will consist of around a dozen members, at least half of which will be appointed by the BBC.

The focus of BBC's content must change 

The paper announced that the broadcaster must focus on 'innovative and high quality' programming, rather than ratings, and should focus more on under-served audiences such as ethnic minority viewers.

Highest earners will be named

It will now be required for all BBC employees who earn more than £450,000 per year to be named, however their specific salaries will not be revealed, instead they will be shown in 'broad bands'.


In the build up to the release of this paper, it was suggested that more intrusive moves were planned, such as a possible plan to stop the BBC from competing with other broadcasters for prime-time viewers, however such plans were ultimately not included, no doubt to the great relief of BBC supporters.