Our Parliamentary Correspondent, Accountancy Age, Thursday 20 May 2010 at 16:26:00

National audit Office to cast an eye over the entirety of the BBC's books


The Lib-Con coalition is to force theBBC to openits books to unfettered examination by the National Audit Office.

A clause in the coalition agreement promises to "give the NAO full access tothe BBC's accents to ensure transparency".

The undertaking marks the end of a campaign run for several years by theCommons' Public Accounts Committee, fuelled in part by frustration on the partof successive comptrollers and auditor generals at having to seek the agreementof BBC managers to their proposals for a limited number of value for moneyinvestigations.

In future the broadcaster will be subject to audit from top to bottom, in away BBC bosses have fought to avoid on the technical ground that they werespending licence-payers' money for which they were responsible to listeners andviewers first through their governors and now to the BBC Trust, and they do notreceive tax money voted by Parliament.

But the move has far wider political ramifications.

Media magnate Rupert Murdoch has previously complained that the scope of theBBC's activities, particularly in the areas of archive material and theinternet, have undermined the commercial activities of companies like his ownNews Corp.

The Lib Dems were strong in support of the BBC and its current range ofactivities but conceded the need for more accountability.

The Tories' hope is that data about the extent to which licence fee money isused to pay for activities some might consider "commercial" will strengthentheir hand in calling for curbs.

Further reading:

Torymanifesto pledges full audit of BBC

Committeeslams BBC's transparency