BBC opens up its books

THE BBC has agreed to give the public spending watchdog complete access to its books for the first time.

Under a deal announced yesterday, the National Audit Office will be able to vet contracts with top executives.

It will also be able to scrutinise the BBC’s contracts with other companies, to ensure the licence-fee payer is getting value for money.

Currently, the NAO is only allowed to carry out value-for-money studies if invited by the BBC?Trust, the corporation’s governing body.

However, the BBC does not have to hand over details of its star’s salaries. Director general Mark Thompson was only willing to do so if the NAO signed a confidentiality agreement, which it refused to do.

The announcement was made by Liberal Democrat culture spokesperson Don Foster at the party’s conference in Liverpool yesterday.