NAO to probe BBC's Freeview spending



Parliament's spending watchdog will investigate the BBC's investment in Freeview, in the first of a series of investigations into the way the broadcaster spends the £2.6 billion (E3.7 billion) raised each year from the licence fee.

The National Audit Office has just begun looking at the BBC's investment in Freeview, which is also funded by British Sky Broadcasting and Crown Castle, the transmission company. The BBC poured £2 million into launching Freeview. Five other areas, including how the broadcaster demonstrates it is fulfilling its public service obligations, have been earmarked for studies.

The scope of the investigations is said to have surprised insiders. The NAO's decision to launch a series of inquiries follows a deal struck last year between the government and the BBC, which previously argued that opening its books would jeopardise its editorial independence.

Other reviews will look at how and if the BBC meets its remit to provide a public service. The NAO will also investigate the construction of a building in London's White City, overheads, risk management and outsourcing. The BBC said: "Together the NAO and the governors' audit committee have agreed this programme of work."