Tag Archives: minister

BBC faces attack from both sides

“At a time when the government’s Digital Britain report has argued that the licence fee should be ‘top-sliced’ and shared with the BBC’s competitors, the corporation finds itself unusually short of friends and increasingly vulnerable,” George Eaton wrote on NewStatesman.com at the beginning of September, following James Murdoch’s attack on the BBC in Edinburgh.

Furthermore, ‘with a Tory party increasingly sceptical of the BBC’s size and scale on the brink of power, the corporation faces the threat of a powerful alliance between Cameron’s Conservatives and Murdoch’s News Corporation,’ he suggested.

But it’s not just the Conservatives it needs to worry about: yesterday the corporation found itself attacked again – this time by the culture secretary (and former BBC reporter) Ben Bradshaw (speech in full at this list) who said the BBC has probably reached its size limit, the licence fee could be reduced, and that the trust model might not be ‘sustainable’.

The chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons is defensive of the BBC (a position criticised by Bradshaw last night: ‘I know of no other area of public life where (…) the same body is both regulator and cheerleader’) and wants to speak directly to the licence fee payers.

Last week, for example, the chairman chose to issue an ‘open letter’ (or as MediaGuardian accurately pointed out, a press release) on the BBC website with evidence of licence fee payer support for the corporation.

Asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme this morning why he bypassed the government with this statement, he said:

“Well how else do I communicate with the people that I am charged by the charter with representing? I am not charged with obeying ministers, I am charged with protecting the independence of the BBC and representing the licence fee payer.”

The chairman issued this statement this morning, defending the Trust:

“The next Charter Review [of the Trust] is many years down the line [2017] and we should be judged on our performance then. In the meantime, we have been set up to be, as the then secretary of state put it in 2006, ‘the voice, eyes and ears of licence fee payers’.

“That means reshaping the BBC; defending its strength and independence; and also protecting the investment licence fee payers have made, and if that means upsetting a minister along the way, it is unfortunate but so be it.”

CMS2009: @DigitalBritain on Twitter but you won’t find @LordCarter

As MediaGuardian’s MediaMonkey has already noted and @journalism_live tweeted, the UK minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, Lord Carter, does not Twitter, and he has ‘no real desire’ to be on Twitter.

“I couldn’t compete,” he says – apparently in reference to the Guardian management addicted to the service (@arusbridger is also on Twitter these days, by the way).

So Lord Carter may not be, but @digitalbritain is on board, if you fancy following the UK government’s digital team.

Perhaps more controversial were Lord Carter’s comments about the importance of UK media, which didn’t make the next session’s panel host, Janneke Niessen, (the Dutch) co-founder of Improve Digital, too happy.

UK content is very different from that of other countries, Carter had said. “English media spreads,” Carter said.

He said that UK media output spreads more widely and crosses boundaries in different ways from the content of other countries – for example, from the Netherlands and Italy.

That’s a result of the widespread and global use of the English language, he was quick to add, sensing the sharp sucking in of breath around the room.

MediaGuardian: Government could relax local media ownership rules

As part of his Digital Britain report to be released later this month, Lord Carter, minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, is expected to recommend relaxing ownership regulations in local media to aid struggling newspaper publishers.

BBC News: Women’s Institute to report sex ads in local newspapers

Harriet Harman, the UK government’s minister for women, will ask the organisation to seek out ‘sleazy adverts’ and complain to editors of the papers carrying them.

Harman is concerned in particular with adverts, which are part of wider trafficking of women.

What about the unregulated ads and websites online?

Police attitude to the press will improve says Home Office

The UK Home Office will try and improve relations between the press and police, the National Union of Journalists reported yesterday. In a statement on their website the NUJ welcomed news that the government will try and improve its recognition of journalistic freedom. During a meeting between the union and the Home Office minister Vernon Coaker, the NUJ raised several concerns about police treatment towards journalists. The NUJ is particularly concerned by police surveillance of journalists and incidents leading to the obstruction of journalists at work.

Journalism in Africa: Kenyan government relaxes communication laws

Dennis Itumbi reports for Journalism.co.uk from Nairobi on the media in Kenya:

The Kenyan Government has bowed to pressure from media owners and dropped plans to outlaw cross-media ownership and endorse the invasion of broadcasting stations.

New laws tabled in parliament by Samuel Poghisio, Kenya’s Information and Communications Minister, suggest the controversial clauses have been removed from the Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008.

The removed clauses made it illegal to own a broadcast station and newspaper at the same time.

However, the new bill emphasises the growth of local programming at local stations. ‘The Kenyan identity has to be maintained throughout the programming and enhanced quantity of such programmes should be aired,’ it states.

At one time former minister Raphael Tuju, who now chairs the Ethnic and Race Relations committee in the Office of the President, demanded that local stations’ output was at least 40 per cent local content – no station complied. However, stations have recently been increasing local production across the country.

The new bill strips the Minister for Internal Security of proposed powers to invade ‘rogue stations’ and seeks to elevate the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) into a fully fledged information and communications regulator. If passed, the bill would empower the CCK to license and regulate broadcasting services.

The new proposals sailed through the first reading in parliament on Monday.

Hysterical woman – also a Spanish government minister – ruins AP copy

I don’t mean to sound over emotional – it’ll just be the hormones acting on my smaller female brain – but I’ve got a problem with a report yesterday from the Associated Press about Charme Chacon, the Spanish defense minister.

The ministry has ordered its staff to stop browsing entertainment and sport websites during working hours. Says the report:

Spain’s Defense Ministry, run by a woman for the first time, has ordered its staff to stop browsing sports and entertainment Web sites while on duty, an official said Thursday.

A ministry official said the order was distributed this week, but did not come directly from the new minister, Carme Chacon, who took over last week as Spain’s first female defense minister. She is 37 years old and seven months pregnant.

What relevance do these points (in bold) have to the story? The order didn’t even come directly from Chacon, as the report states, so why let the copy imply that her gender and her pregnancy are somehow related to the situation?

Just in case there’s any confusion over this blog post – I am 24 years old and not pregnant.