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BBC must remain editorially independent, says culture secretary

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the BBC must remain editorially independent to continue producing “world class news”.

Speaking in an interview with Andrew Marr yesterday, Hunt also indicated some change was needed to the licence fee:

We’ll be having discussions over the future of the licence fee, the next licence fee settlement next year, in which I’ll be talking to Mark and the BBC management in a lot of detail. And I do want the BBC to demonstrate that when it comes to their management pay, they’re on the same planet as everyone else because of the economic inheritance that we’re facing. Government ministers are having to be careful with every single penny of taxpayers’ money and the BBC does need to show that it’s careful with every penny of licence fee payers’ money as well.

But he added that the government support the idea of a similar stream of revenue continuing:

Well what we’ve said very clearly is that we accept the principle of the licence fee, which is the idea if you like of a household tax to fund public service broadcasting that is ring-fenced, and we think that one of the reasons we have some of the best TV and broadcasting in the world in this country is because we have these different streams of income including the licence fee, including subscription income and including advertising. Now the way we collect it may have to be rethought because technology is changing, a lot of people are watching TV on their PCs. We’re not going to introduce a PC licence fee and that is something that I do need to have discussions with the BBC to see what their ideas are.

Marr also asked Hunt for a response to the news that Express Newspapers owner Richard Desmond had purchased Channel Five. Hunt said the news was “encouraging”:

Well what people need to remember about that is that the regulations over what broadcasters can do are much stricter than over people who run newspapers and magazines. And it was a Conservative government that founded Channel Five in 1997. Indeed Conservative governments have actually been responsible for most of the big changes in broadcasting. We founded ITV and Four and did the Sky and satellite and cable revolution as well. But what I think is encouraging is that one of the first things that Richard Desmond said was that he was committed to Five’s future as a public service broadcaster.

See the full programme here…

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NUJ chapel demands ‘end to the insecurity and uncertainty’ at Express newspaper titles

October 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

The NUJ Express Newspapers Chapel today called upon its group editorial director to address its next meeting, in a bid to ‘end to the insecurity and uncertainty that management keeps heaping on staff’.

Express Newspapers includes the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Sunday Star. Its resolution in full, passed unanimously at today’s meeting of the NUJ Express Newspapers Chapel:

“This chapel calls on group editorial director Paul Ashford to address our next chapel meeting.

“We demand answers on the company’s vision of the future for the four titles; a comprehensive plan for their continued editorial functions; information on plans for the company websites and an end to the insecurity and uncertainty that management keeps heaping on staff.

“We do not accept compulsory redundancies and will fight long and hard for anyone being forced out of the company in this way.”

In August, Journalism.co.uk broke the news that Northern & Shell, owners of Express Newspapers and OK! magazine, had announced plans to make 70 journalists at its newspaper titles – Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Sunday Star – redundant.

The latest update was that the company has reduced the overall number of cuts at the newspapers from 90 to 75. This meant the number of journalism jobs cut would be reduced from 70 to between 52 and 57.

Journalism.co.uk will follow up with Express Newspapers tomorrow.

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Editorial job losses at Express Newspapers reduced from 70 following union talks

September 24th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Job losses, Jobs, Newspapers

As reported on Journalism.co.uk in August, Northern & Shell, owners of Express Newspapers and OK! magazine, announced plans to make 70 journalists at its newspaper titles – Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Sunday Star – redundant.

Now the company has reduced the overall number of cuts at the newspapers from 90 to 75. This means the number of journalism jobs cut would be reduced from 70 to between 52 and 57 – a figure reported by the Guardian and confirmed to Journalism.co.uk by the National Union of Journalists.

“The reduction in job cuts was only announced after the NUJ had warned the company that they were not following the right procedure,” said Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary.

Stanistreet, a former Express Newspapers union representative, attended talks with the company this week.

“While we welcome the reduced numbers we still don’t know how the papers can be produced with the few people who will be left. We want to see some proper plans and we want guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies.”

Last year 80 Daily and Sunday Express redundancies were proposed by Northern & Shell, to cut the number of staff sub-editors, long-term regular casual sub-editors and other casual journalism staff.

Last year’s cutbacks included the introduction of a new working week pattern for sub-editing staff at the paper and a production system, which would allow some staff to write directly onto page templates without the need for sub-editors.

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PageSuite lands 40 title publishing deal with bizjournals

UK based digital publishers PageSuite have landed a deal with America’s largest publisher of metropolitan business newspapers, American City Business Journals. The company will launch of all 40 of their bizjournal titles online, using PageSuite as their provider.

Bizjournals cover 40 industries, distributed across 41 cities and their websites have more than eight million unique visitors per month. “Our production teams have found the software to be very flexible and user friendly,” commented Eric Mick from bizjournals, in a release.

PageSuite already publishes digital editions for some of the world’s biggest newspapers including Metro Canada, Metro UK & Ireland, San Francisco Examiner, Express Newspapers, The Guardian Weekly & Brazil’s largest daily newspaper Zero Hora.

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