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Broadcasting (Impartiality)

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

14. What recent discussions he has had with broadcast media industry representatives on the impartiality of news and current affairs programmes. (318866)

Impartiality is an essential element of Britain’s broadcasting culture. The suggestion that the requirement for impartiality in broadcasting should be lifted that has been made by the Conservatives and some of their friends in the media would be a regrettable, even dangerous, step.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. I know he agrees that some people in the House would like to get rid of the impartiality rules for everybody except the BBC. Does he agree that that should not happen? The only thing we want in relation to Fox News is for hunting not to be repealed.

I think my hon. Friend is absolutely right. When one looks at all the surveys of public attitudes towards broadcasting in this country, one sees that one of the things the public greatly value is the requirement on broadcasters to be impartial. It would be a retrograde step and a dangerous step for democracy, when we look—as my hon. Friend has—at the landscape in the United States under proposals similar to those the Conservatives would like to introduce in the UK. It is bad for democracy, bad for the quality of broadcasting and the public will not like it.