Amendment 1

Part of Media Bill - Report and Third Reading – in the House of Lords am 3:30 pm ar 23 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Viscount Colville of Culross Viscount Colville of Culross Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 3:30, 23 Mai 2024

My Lords, I have put my name to Amendments 1 and 2 because it is essential that, in the first clause of this Bill, Parliament gives directed guidance to Ofcom on the content that it would hope to see created by our great broadcasters.

In Committee, the Minister said that the original list of genres and the Reithian mission statement gave “little guidance” to Ofcom on how to focus its assessment of what it is important for public service broadcasters to deliver. Amendment 1 gives a mission statement to provide content that informs and educates viewers. I hope this will ensure that the PSBs do not descend into providing only entertainment and not any information or education.

Amendment 2, which encourages broadcasters to stimulate science and the arts, among other things, is so very important. This is not a list of genres, which the Minister feared, but it does provide a metric for content against which Ofcom can measure the work of our broadcasters.

As other noble Lords have said, we are giving great privilege to broadcasters in this Bill, which I strongly welcome. However, with that must be a burden of responsibility to ensure that they should be distinctive and British. In a world dominated by streamers creating global entertainment, I hope that viewers in this country will be able in future to turn to our PSBs and find content that informs them about subjects that illuminate and bring context to their lives.

I, too, am grateful to the Minister for meeting me and my noble friend Lady Bull to discuss the changes to Clause 1. He was encouraging of the idea of extending the guidance for the public service remit, so I hope that he will support these important amendments.

I have also put my name to Amendment 6 to Clause 14 because I believe that Channel 4 is ready to increase its quota to the nations from the present 9%. The channel’s CEO, Alex Mahon, said as much in her speech to the creative industries last month. I hope that, in the present negotiations for the next licensing round of Channel 4, the Government will give guidance to the channel to increase its quota. It may not be as much as 16%, in line with the BBC, but it needs to be raised from the present 9%.

The television industry in the nations and many regions is collapsing from lack of work. Now is the time for action. I call on the Minister to accept this amendment.