Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


  Summary of NUJ Recommendations contained in its document: Promoting Media Freedom and Diversity: The National Union of Journalists' response to the White Paper, "A New Future For Communications" CM5010, DTI/DCMS 2000 (London, NUJ, 2000).

  (2(a)) indicates the paragraph in the response from which the recommendation is taken.

  1.  The NUJ therefore urges the government to indicate its willingness to conduct a much longer consultation period for the White Paper proposals and to establish a full-scale public inquiry into the future of mass communications policy. (2[c]).

  2.  The Union considers, that the government should consult fully with the NUJ and other media unions about how to ensure that any future legislation protects the rights of journalists to editorial independence and protection of their intellectual copyright, and ensures that trade unions, and in particular the Federation of Entertainment Unions, are formally represented on the regulatory and advisory structures of the industry.(3[a]).

  3.  The Union urges the government to ensure that regular independent research is conducted to monitor the health and safety implications of the prolonged use of information and communications technologies in the workplace.(3[b]).

  4.  The NUJ considers that all licensed broadcasters should be subject to a clear requirement in their licences to contribute towards training in the sector and looks forward to a full industry wide debate on the implications of the Audio Visual Industries Training Group report which is due for publication in the spring.(4(a)).

  5.  The NUJ considers that the promotion of equal opportunities should be written into legislation as a central objective of regulators , broadcasters and trainers.(4(c)).

  6.  The Union would like the government to review current restrictions on freedom of expression and journalistic independence prior to the drafting of any Communications Bill. It should consult widely to secure proposals designed to end current restrictions embedded in the Secrecy and Contempt Laws and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.(5(a)).

  7.  NUJ wishes to see diversity and accountability in media regulation so as to promote media which are free and of a high quality. It believes that the regulation of content should be kept separate from economic regulation. It therefore recommends that the government reconsider its decision to centralise power in OFCOM and that it look at ways of both retaining distinct sectoral regulation and rationalising the laws governing the media. It urges the government to consult on devising a better system for making media regulatory bodies more democratically accountable and for building in a stronger element of regional and national democracy into the regulatory framework.(6(f)).

  8.  The NUJ recommends that an independent media complaints body be established, whose task would be to promote high standards in the media by supporting good practice, and which would also both encourage the voluntary resolution of complaints and have the power to enforce the publication of its adjudications.(6(g)).

  9.  The Union is deeply concerned that the White Paper sanctions a regime which encourages tendencies towards further concentration in the media industries. It therefore recommends that the rules on media ownership be reviewed in the context of a full public inquiry, with a view to preventing further concentration of ownership in the industry and to examining ways in which the media industry can support diversity of media outlets.(7(c)).

  10.  The government needs to adopt a much more robust attitude to questions of the provision of news, at a national, regional and local level, across the whole range of licensed services in the UK to ensure that the public has regular access to peak time mass audience news and current affairs.(8(c)).

  11.  The Union recommends that the government review its three tier system of regulation, to clarify the proposal, to strengthen the qualitative requirements for high quality PSB across the system, and in particular with a view to creating the economic and regulatory conditions needed to extend the public service remit across all broadcasting outlets and to sustain high quality, peak time news and current affairs programming across all major public service and non public service networks.(8(e)).

  12.  The Union recommends that the government investigate ways in which the licensing of new services should be done in the context of promoting public service criteria across as many outlets as is reasonably possible.(8.(f)).

  13.  The Union welcomes the promotion of community broadcasting. It recommends that new initiatives in this area should be undertaken so as to guarantee independence. This means not allowing advertising as a source of income for community media, but substitute instead a system of "arms length" public funding. The Union also recommends that new services in this area should not be used as an excuse for letting commercial and public service licensed services off the hook on questions of covering their local cultures, nor should it be used as a device to depress wages and conditions in the industry or to exploit underpaid, or unpaid workers. The Union looks forward to being fully involved in discussions around the establishment of the new sector. There should be a separate regulatory authority designed to stimulate and sustain community media at national and regional levels.(9(a)).

  14.  The Union recommends that detailed consideration be given to developing ways of enhancing the degree of national and regional input into both the structures and output of broadcasting in the UK.(10(a)).

  15.  The Union recommends that the government examine methods of subsidising free to air services and set top boxes for this minority in order to ensure that all people benefit from the switch to digital and no section of the population is deprived in the switch over.(11(a)).

15 January 2002

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