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Media Bill First Reading: CMS Committee Chair welcomes introduction of legislation to protect public service broadcasting

8 November 2023

CMS Committee Chair, Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, has welcomed the introduction of the Media Bill after the Secretary of State confirmed that the Government has accepted the majority of recommendations made by the Committee after its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill.

Commenting on today’s First Reading of the Bill in the House of Commons, Dame Caroline said:

“The Bill is vital to ensuring Public Service Broadcasters maintain their prominence at the heart of the UK’s media landscape and its introduction so promptly after the King’s Speech is very welcome.

This legislation must be fit for both the current and future media landscape, so I am pleased that the Government has listened to the Committee and accepted the majority of the recommendations we made after our pre-legislative scrutiny.

Stronger protections for the Listed Events regime are welcome. Broadcasters and platforms alike will welcome the clarity on brokering commercial agreements and dealing with legacy devices. The Bill also effectively balances the ability to adapt to future changes in TV and radio, with ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place.

The new inclusion of reference to genres in the Bill’s changes to the public service remit is a step in the right direction and we will closely monitor the passage of the Bill to ensure this meets the needs of viewers. The mitigations the Government has put in place, should Channel 4 start producing its own content, also merit particular scrutiny. Channel 4 plays a major role in the success of the UK’s independent production sector and mitigations to protect it are critical.

This is potentially a once in a generation chance to improve media regulation, so we need to get this right. Audiences deserve nothing less.”

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer this week wrote to Dame Caroline to outline the Government’s response to changes to the legislation proposed by the Committee following scrutiny of the Bill earlier this year. The Committee will consider and publish the Government’s full response to its two reports at a later date.

The Committee’s first report relating to radio called for measures to address the risk to the industry of larger platforms controlling access to stations and driving listeners elsewhere. A further report on the wider provisions in the Bill included the recommendation that obligations on smart TVs, firesticks and set-top boxes to ensure public service broadcasters are prominent on their platforms should be strengthened.

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