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BBC faces legislator questions

House of Lords raises concerns

The U.K.’s upper legislative body, the House of Lords, raised fresh concerns over the regulation of the BBC and the role of new chairman Michael Lyons, in a report published Friday.

Coming in the wake of a series of scandals about faked phone-in competitions and the furor over a misleading trailer for a documentary about the Queen, the select committee report noted that “the BBC is facing serious challenges to its trust and reputation.”

It suggested that the handling of recent editorial failures had highlighted confusion over the role of the chairman and the BBC Trust, the governing body introduced to provide greater separation from management.

The report also questioned the process used to pick the chairman, arguing that it was too open to influence from government ministers.

Lyons’ appointment in May was attacked by government opponents because of his links with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The report advocated that chairmen be subject to a pre-appointment parliamentary hearing and should be chosen by a panel headed by someone with no political background.

A suggestion that BBC chairmen serve six months’ notice appears to have been inspired by the sudden departure of former chairman Michael Grade, who jumped ship to ITV late last year.

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