Thursday, October 25, 2007

No Minister!

Met with James Purnell the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport yesterday along with members of the NUJ's Parliamentary Group. We set out our alternative to the cuts plans for ITV, set out our opposition to the BBC cuts and proposed possible models to protect the future of Public Service Broadcasting.
The response, in summary, was these are matters for the management of ITV, BBC etc and we are only the Government - it is either not possible/not desirable to intervene.

I'm not blaming James Purnell - I've heard the same frustrating message from the old DTI, the new DBERR and many other government departments and ministers. Whatever happened to the idea of intervention to provide a social good, of tackling market failure - or even, whisper it, socialist principles. I'm not asking him to nationalise the top 200 monopolies under democratic workers control and management (at this stage!) just to understand that by allowing ITV or the BBC to axe news services or cut jobs in core public services the prospect is the public is less well served and licence fee payers are short-changed. Our fight at both ITV and BBC goes on.

The Minister gave us assurances he is committed to protecting the long term future of public service broadcasting. There will be a public consultation in the new year over how we can achieve that - we must make sure that consultation hears the voice not just of the business and deregulation lobby but the voice of listeners, viewers, staff and those who really believe in public service broadcasting.

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