The charter review process was launched in December 2003 and is continuing. It has been open and transparent throughout and has benefited for the first time ever from wide consultation with the public. There has also been consultation with the industry and in-depth research and advice from Lord Burns and his independent panel. I hope to be in a position to publish a Green Paper in the next two months.
I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer. She knows that the BBC's fair trading commitments are regulated internally. However, it has been suggested that that leads to a conflict of interest on occasions, especially regarding the value of the licence fee and getting a fair deal for the contributor or the supplier. There is also unnecessary bureaucratic expense. Does my right hon. Friend believe that external regulation of the BBC's fair trading commitments could solve that problem and, if so, will she consider it as part of the charter renewal?
How does the Secretary of State think the BBC's claim for a new royal charter is enhanced by a programme such as CBBC's "Dick & Dom in Da Bungalow"? Perhaps, if she is not familiar with the programme, I can invite her back to my office to see the website, where she can join me in playing "How low can you bungalow?", a test to find one's response to grossly embarrassing personal situations, largely of a lavatorial nature. The right hon. Lady can also view "Pants Dancers in the Hall of Fame", which is photos of children with underwear on their heads, and play "Make Dick Sick", a game that speaks for itself. Finally, there is "Bunged Up", in which one plays a character in a sewage system, avoiding turtle poo coming from various lavatories. Is that really the stuff of public service broadcasting?
It is the Government's job to develop a new charter for the BBC; it is then the BBC's job to determine standards of taste, decency and appropriateness.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that there are many advantages in a 10-year BBC charter, rather than the five years being mooted in some circles, to span digital switch-over and allow the BBC to plan for public service broadcasting in the post-digital world, not least because it takes three or four years of production to get some programmes, such as the excellent Auschwitz documentary on BBC 2, from the ideas stage to broadcast?