House of Lords Communications Committee inquiry into media plurality
1. The International Broadcasting Trust (IBT) welcomes this opportunity to respond to the request for evidence from the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications as part of the Committee’s inquiry into Media Plurality.
2. While addressing some of the broader policy questions raised in this call for evidence, IBT’s focus is on the plural provision of broadcast content which tells us about the world outside the UK because this is where IBT’s expertise lies.
3. IBT is concerned by the decline in international content on mainstream UK television since 2005 and wants to ensure that a framework is in place to ensure the public has access to a diverse range of information about the world around them.
4. IBT urges the Communications Committee to consider how to ensure that there is range and diversity of content provided by the public service broadcasters, rather than focus primarily on plurality of supply which doesn’t guarantee plurality of content.
5. IBT believes that all genres should be covered by plurality policy.
6. IBT is concerned by a current failure of plural supply in international current affairs on the commercial PSB’s and this issue needs attention.
7. We wish to emphasise the importance of qualitative as well as quantitative analysis in establishing whether there is a plurality of content available.
8. We agree with Ofcom that there should be a periodic review of media plurality every four or five years.
9. One aspect of plurality which IBT believes needs to be addressed in this inquiry is the wholesale provision of news content.
10. Public service media such as the BBC and Channel 4 should be included in any assessment of media plurality.
11. It is IBT’s view that politicians should be removed from decisions on mergers and plurality. The final decisions in this policy area should be made by an independent media regulatory body such as Ofcom.