Memorandum submitted by The Chartered
Institute of Journalists (CIoJ)
The Chartered Institute of Journalists wishes
the Committee looking into the future of Communications to take
into account the following brief statement, relating to broadcasting:
The merging of the broadcast and telecommunications
industries under a single regulatorOFCOMis a profound
mistake. It is part of the current centralising trend that has
brought ruin to so many of the UK's public services. OFCOM is
bound to become the RailTrack of the airwaves.
At a time when there is a need for the release
of more spectrum and the diversification of the UK media. OFCOM
and the likely form of the Communications Bill will slow and stunt
healthy developments in the media sector.
As the broadcasters disappear in the tentacular
bureaucracy of the inefficient telecommunications industry, global
groups will pick-off the juicier elements of commercial broadcasting
with all the attendant risks to creativity and excellence.
The CIoJ considers that ownership issues are
already well covered by competition law and sees no reason to
interpose OFCOM, which will undoubtedly be peopled by members
with little commercial credibility.
An example of this is the already stated view
of OFCOM supporters that companies holding interests in the regional
press should be restricted from expanding into broadcasting. The
CIoJ cannot see why provincial companies that have been in existence
sometimes for centuries, should not play a greater role, when
a company based in say Delaware or Frankfurt will have free range.
The proposal to strengthen oversight of broadcast
news organisations is welcome. The lamentable dumbing down of
television news, in particular, has already gone on for too long.
In general, the White Paper will not lead to
a "lighter touch"promised by successive governmentsin
the broadcasting and telecommunications industries. It will result
in a continuing situation where existing companies are vulnerable
to external predators and a general atmosphere in which genuine
enterprise is stifled yet again.