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BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead Promises to Consult Viewers

Rona Fairhead

Rona Fairhead, the new chairman of the BBC’s governing body, vowed to identify and deal with the broadcaster’s faults and challenges as well as reach out to the public regarding the future of the company.

There has been some controversy online a while back, regarding Rona Fairhead’s Wikipedia page, which originally included a statement about her being of Jewish descent, but that note was later removed. Our on research yielded plenty of nasty comments accusing Fairhead of being pro-Zionist and too friendly toward Israel, so, as far as we’re concerned, she’s in.

In her first speech since becoming chairman of BBC Trust, the former Financial Times Group chief executive called for “a proper public debate” about the BBC’s future rather than “one conducted by a small elite”. She did not explain how she intends to reach out to the public but she apparently has a plan, the London Evening Standard said.

The corporation needs to gain public support ahead of the coming charter review, after a couple of years of overlapping controversies and consequent damaging publicity. It faces more discomforting headlines once Janet Smith concludes her review into its culture and practices during the Jimmy Savile years, the Standard said.

“I’m not someone to gloss over the BBC’s faults, problems or challenges, ” Fairhead said at the Royal Television Society. “I see it as part of my job to identify and pursue them.” The first challenge she identified, the competitive environment, is the most significant of all, according to the report.

Fairhead has begun to discover that there is no easy way to deal with commercial pressures. For example, the declining profitability of newspapers, which has necessitated industrywide cuts, has become the focus of a dispute between publishers and the BBC’s news division, the Standard said.

In her speech, Fairhead said the BBC should be “more open and collaborative” in dealings with papers, share content and “get better at linking and attribution”, but added “it should help close the democratic deficit in local political coverage”, referring to a decline in reporting at local and regional level publishers the report said.

Fairhead also said she is keen to set “appropriate boundaries” for collaboration but she will also need to investigate the way in which the BBC’s online division has encroached on territory that national papers and magazines regard as their own, according to the Standard.

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