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Lincoln professor steers BBC scrutiny forum

An online platform which gives audiences a chance to debate the BBC’s future has been relaunched, with a University of Lincoln professor at the helm.

Our Beeb is a web forum where matters relating to the BBC can be argued, discussed, and developed.

As its new editor, Professor Brian Winston, will now oversee the important debate on the nature of public service broadcasting in the UK.

The platform is hosted by openDemocracy, an e-zine and discussion forum, which offers news and opinion articles from established academics and journalists covering current affairs around the world.

Our Beeb originally launched in 2012 as a six-month project to explore issues surrounding the BBC; including the appointment process for chief executives, justification for the licence fee, management structure, the stance and standard of the news, neutrality and diversity.

Now, as the corporation approaches the renewal date for its governing Royal Charter in 2016, Our Beeb has been recommissioned to provide an objective forum for discussion.

Professor Winston, Lincoln Chair at the University of Lincoln’s School of Journalism, said: “The BBC has an annual income of £3.6 billion, paid for by the public, yet we currently have an unusual situation in that in cannot be scrutinised by itself, and nor can we rely on the discussion of its rival broadcasters and media platforms.

“What we have is an extremely pressing case for a new platform with absolutely no agenda, away from the inevitable bias of newspapers and other broadcasters.

“This is where Our Beeb comes in. It represents an impartial open public sphere where, as owners of the corporation, our needs and expectations can be published.

“It will not be dedicated to the criticism or the worship of the BBC, but as editor I hope to publish contributions from both perspectives and everything in-between.

“The platform’s advisory panel, steering group and team of editors will be available to engage in discussions regarding the long-term strategic direction of the BBC, as we explore how we can ensure public service media remains accountable to its funders.”

Our Beeb is led by an advisory panel and steering group, which includes David Elstein, Lis Howell, Anthony Barnett and Rosemary Bechler, with Adam Ramsey and Oliver Huitson acting as executive editors.

Professor Brian Winston’s primary areas of interest include freedom of speech, journalism history, media technology and documentary film; all of which he teaches.

Having worked with the media for over 50 years, he has been widely published around the world and is the founding chair of British Association of Film, Television and Media Studies, sits on the editorial board of British Journalism Review and is a Guest Professor at Beijing Normal University.