BBC to be externally regulated for first time in 90-year history

The BBC is to be regulated externally for the first time in its 90-year history, the government will announce today.

Independent media regulator Ofcom will become the official regulator of the BBC, replacing the internal BBC Trust.

The change is just one of a number of proposals contained in a long-awaited White Paper on the BBC's future.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale will outline the full proposals in parliament later today.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale will reveal the BBC proposals for the next 11 years. Credit: PA

So what is expected to change?

  • The licence fee, which is currently £145.50, will rise in line with inflation for the next five years.

  • The government also plans to introduce a new process for determining what the licence fee cost is every five years.

  • Viewers will be charged from now on for watching BBC iPlayer - closing a loophole they say costs them £150 million a year.

  • And some of the corporation's top stars could be forced to publish their salaries if they earn more than £450,000 a year - the amount the director general Lord Hall is on.

  • The BBC's charter will also be renewed every 11 years, rather than the current 10 years.

Viewers will now have to have a TV licence to watch BBC iPlayer. Credit: PA

A government source said: "The BBC is a world-class broadcaster and one of our country's greatest institutions.

"Our plans will mean that the BBC will keep making the great programmes we love and will continue to thrive in the future."

A key reform laid out in the White Paper is the formation of what the Government is calling a "strong unitary board for the BBC".

The BBC will be responsible for appointing at least "half of the board members" and Ofcom will be the external regulator of the corporation.

Specific details of who would elect the other half of the board have not yet been detailed.

Dame Judi Dench is just one of the stars who have spoken out in defence of the BBC. Credit: PA

A string of stars have spoken out in defence of the BBC over recent months.

They include actors Dame Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, James Nesbitt and director Danny Boyle.

While veteran actor Richard Wilson told The Guardian: "I would march in the streets, I would, as long as they don't march too far."

In a letter to the Prime Minister last year, a host of A-list names said: "A diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished Britain.

"Like all organisations, it has its faults, but it is overwhelmingly a creative force for good."