The appointment is the first in a series of additions to the board, and part of changes to the relationship between the BBC Trust, its governing body, and the executive. The review, which was published Wednesday, was sparked following a rocky year for the U.K. network, and in advance of a testing period to come.
Before joining Sony, Stringer was president of CBS, and his extensive broadcasting and commercial experience will be invaluable to the BBC.
Speaking about the reforms to BBC governance, the pubcaster’s director-general Tony Hall said: “This is an important first step in making the BBC simpler and better run.”
The review concluded that there should be:
Clearer roles and responsibilities: There will be greater separation between the Trust and executive, with the Trust clearly responsible for setting the overall strategic framework for the BBC, and the executive responsible for delivering within this. The Trust will not involve itself in operational decision making. This will require a change in the working culture on both sides, with more agreement on where information should to be shared, and where operational responsibilities lie. The Trust will also publish the objectives and priorities that it sets for the BBC executive.
New three-stage performance reporting: To ensure better monitoring of how specific BBC projects are progressing and ensure that issues are identified and dealt with early, the executive will report to the Trust more comprehensively throughout the year. There will be new quarterly business updates from the executive to the Trust, formal reviews by the Trust of individual projects, and — if necessary — an “Exceptional Business Report” from the executive to the Trust if a project is at serious risk.
Increase in number and role of non-executive directors: The executive will increase the number of non-executive directors on its board from four to six, and their role to provide external expertise and challenge will be strengthened, including adopting a more prominent public-facing role and joining the director-general to give evidence before Parliamentary committees. This complements the work already undertaken by the director-general to radically reform executive decision-making, removing unnecessary boards and committees.
Improving transparency: A series of meetings between the Trust and executive will be filmed and broadcast via the Trust website. It is expected that these will initially include discussions on the conclusions of the Trust’s reviews of BBC services, and end of year performance discussions. The Trust will expand its successful program of public consultation and audience engagement, and ask license fee payers to help set the priorities for the BBC each year, which will then be published.
BBC Trust chairman, Chris Patten, said: “People don’t just expect the BBC to produce great programs, they want it to be run well. While much has gone well in the past, the last 15 months have seen a number of significant failures. As a result (director-general) Tony Hall and I have agreed some very sensible changes to how the relationship between the Trust and executive works, so we are clearer about who does what, and we are accountable and transparent. It means the BBC can get on with the job of running the BBC, and the Trust can rightly focus on holding the executive to account on behalf of license fee payers.”
BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “This is an important first step in making the BBC simpler and better run. And, I’m delighted that Sir Howard Stringer will be joining as a non-executive director.”