16.1 C
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
HomeEconomyThe British government is not guided by 'political beliefs' for the next...

The British government is not guided by ‘political beliefs’ for the next BBC chairman


Britain’s culture minister has pledged not to be guided by “political beliefs” when choosing the next BBC chairman, but urged the broadcaster to take into account rules around impartiality as they are “sometimes biased” used to be.

Lucy Frazer told the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee on Tuesday that after Richard Sharp’s resignation she wanted to ensure “the widest possible field” of candidates for the job in order to “recommend the best person possible”.

Ministers have been urged to ensure the nomination process is transparent and to stop electing candidates with clear political affiliations after Sharp, a Tory party donor, was forced to quit in April over potential alleged conflicts of interest.

“I’m not going to take their political beliefs into account one way or the other,” Frazer said, adding that no decisions had been made on the license fee, which the BBC funds, ahead of a review of the subject.

However, she urged the company to “also understand its duties regarding impartiality”, noting that a mid-term review of its operations would address the issue.

“I think the BBC is sometimes biased,” said Frazer, without giving any examples. “There are often complaints about the BBC.”

Her comments to the Commons Committee followed a warning from a senior media executive that public service broadcasters, such as ITV, faced an “existential threat” from commercial demands from US technology groups to distribute their programs over the internet.

Magnus Brooke ITV’s director of strategy, policy and regulation, at the media committee on Tuesday. He warned of an ‘existential threat’ from US technology groups © Parliamentlive.tv

PSBs are concerned that the government’s draft media law does not contain sufficiently clear rules enforcing a fair commercial relationship between them and online TV platforms owned by major US technology companies.

The legislation, now going through parliament, is partly intended to help them better compete with leading streaming services such as Amazon Prime. For example, one of the objectives is to make it easy for viewers to discover PSB services such as BBC iPlayer and ITVX on smart TVs, and to make them “notable” on streaming platforms’ systems.

But as a witness, Magnus Brooke, ITV’s director of strategy, policy and regulation, warned that online TV platforms could apply commercial terms set at a global level rather than a UK level.

He said such a move could lead the companies to demand more than 30 percent of broadcasters’ revenues, as well as control over key customer data and advertiser relationships.

“That’s an existential threat to PSBs,” said Brooke, who argued that provisions in the bill to ensure broadcasters could cover their costs were not the right approach because of the need for commercially funded networks to make money.

The legislation gives Ofcom a dispute resolution function, allowing it to step in if PSBs and streamers cannot negotiate mutually beneficial commercial deals.

Brooke said the bill was necessary to give the watchdog “enough power and discretion. . . to take us to a place of victory, to win as we do with a Virgo or a Heaven”.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

Latest stories