Board of Governors of the BBC

From Academic Kids

The Board of Governors of the BBC is a group of twelve people who together regulate the BBC and represent the interests of the public, in particular those of viewers and listeners.

The governors are independent of the Director-General and the rest of the BBC's Executive Team. They have no direct say in programme-making, but are nevertheless accountable to Parliament (and the public) for the BBC's actions. Although a 'state broadcaster', the BBC is theoretically protected from government interference due to the statutory role of the governors.

Governors appoint the Director-General and other key BBC staff. They approve strategy and policy, set objectives, handle complaints, and produce Annual Reports that document the BBC's performance and compliance each year.

The role of chairman of the Board of Governors is one of the most important positions in British media.



Governors are usually appointed from senior positions in various walks of British society. Each appointment is a part-time position and lasts for four (formerly five) years. Four governors have specific responsibilities: for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions.

Governors are nominally appointed by the monarch on the advice of ministers. In practice, governors are chosen by the government of the day. This has led to claims of political interference, in particular during the years of Margaret Thatcher's premiership. Most recently, the government of Tony Blair appointed Michael Grade as chairman of the Board of Governors on the recommendation of an independent selection committee.


The government of Margaret Thatcher appointed a succession of governors with the apparent intent of bringing the BBC "into line" with government policy. Marmaduke Hussey was appointed chairman of the Board of Governors apparently with the specific agenda of bringing down the then-Director-General Alasdair Milne; this government also broke the tradition of always having a trade union leader on the Board of Governors.

It has also been suggested that Harold Wilson's appointment of the former Tory minister Lord Hill as chairman of the Board of Governors in 1967 was motivated by a desire to undermine the radical, questioning agenda of Director-General Sir Hugh Greene - ironically Wilson had attacked the appointment of Hill as Chairman of the Independent Television Authority by a Tory government in 1963.

In January 2004 Gavyn Davies, who had been appointed chairman of the Board of Governors by the Labour government in 2001, resigned in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry. Subsequently, the acting chairman was Lord Ryder, previously a Conservative MP and a member of Margaret Thatcher's personal staff. It has been claimed that Ryder and other Conservatives on the Board of Governors were effectively responsible for "forcing out" Director-General Greg Dyke, who had not initially believed that his offer of resignation would be accepted by the Governors. In May of 2004, Michael Grade took over as permanent chairman.

Chairmen of the Board of Governors

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