Half of Lords inquiry panel into future of licence fee declare interest in BBC

House of Lords panel declare interests in BBC before inquiry

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The second chamber’s Communications and Digital Committee began examining the Beeb’s future funding models yesterday. Before it heard evidence from four experts, each panel member was asked to declare if they had an interest in the under-fire public service broadcaster.

It began with the committee’s chair Baroness Stowell of Beeston revealing that she was an employee of the BBC between 2001 and 2010.

This meant that she had an interest in its pension scheme.

Lord Ed Vaizey – the former Lib Dem MP – then revealed his interest in the corporation.

He said: “I watch the BBC all the time. I am on the board of (the) Tate (Art Gallery) with Tim Davie – the director-general of the BBC.

“I appear as a regular panellist on BBC Context for which I am remunerated.”

Lord Bishop said: “I broadcast for the BBC occasionally for which I receive payment.”

Baroness Bull said: “I was a Governor of the BBC between 2003 and 2006. I occasionally make and appear on programmes on radio and television.

“My partner is a freelance filmmaker and cameraman who is occasionally employed by the BBC.”

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Labour peer Lord Griffiths said: “I am an avid listener and viewer.

“From the time my alarm goes off in the morning to when (BBC News presenter) Huw Edwards goes to bed.

“And I worked with the BBC, with their religion department for 30 years.”

Former director-general Lord Hall then went on to document his extensive links with the corporation.

Commenting on the opening of the inquiry into future funding models, website Guido Fawkes wrote: “Farcical scenes from the Lords inquiry into BBC funding this afternoon, as half the panel charged with discussing the future of the licence fee immediately admitted to having financial interests – including pensions – in the BBC.

“This is a panel that also happens to include Tony Hall, the ex-Director General of… the BBC.

“Obviously, this couldn’t possibly prejudice the impartial outcome of the inquiry’s work…”

The inquiry is looking at how the BBC should be funded and how the corporation should adapt to evolving consumer habits.

It was created shortly after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced that the licence fee would be frozen for the next two years.

She also revealed that she wanted to find a new funding model for the broadcaster after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.

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