Lords to explore role of Public Service Broadcasters in UK media plurality

19 July 2013


On Tuesday 23 July, the House of Lords Communications Committee will take evidence from the Public Service Broadcasters, BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

The existing media plurality rules do not exist in isolation; they accompany, among other things, a competition framework, media ownership caps such as the “20 / 20 rule” and, of course, public interventions into broadcasting through the Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs). The Committee will explore the important role the PSBs play in contributing to media plurality in the UK.

The Committee will begin at 3.30pm, by speaking to James Heath, Director of Policy and Daniel Wilson, Head of International Policy at the BBC. Questions to the witnesses will focus on the way that service licences, editorial culture and due impartiality feed into the organisation’s internal plurality.

The Committee will also ask major questions about the roles and responsibilities of the BBC more generally in this regard, and whether the interplay needs to be clarified between due impartiality on the one hand and the breadth of opinion reflected across the BBC’s output on the other.

The BBC will be followed, at 4.30pm, by:

  • Magnus Brooke, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, ITV;
  • Dan Brooke, Director of Marketing and Communications, Channel 4; and
  • Marcus Lee, Director of Legal and Commercial Affairs, Channel 5.

The Committee will question ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 on issues including:

  • the connections that exist between policies supporting PSB and media plurality more widely;
  • the extent to which editorial responsibility for news is held by the broadcasters themselves as opposed to their news producer, ITN; and
  • what refinements they suggest to the public interest test regime, not least in the light of ITV’s experiences of its processes at the time of the Sky/ITV acquisition of shares in 2006. 

The evidence sessions will take place on Tuesday 23 July from 3.30pm in Committee Room 2 of the House of Lords.

The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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