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TUC Congress backs NUJ cricitism of Digital Britain policy

15 September 2009

UK government broadcasting policy has been declared "woefully inadequate" at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Congress in Liverpool.

Addressing the TUC's annual conference, Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, also hit out at James Murdoch and his recent statements against the BBC.

Jeremy Dear said:

"If James Murdoch ran BUPA he'd attack the NHS, if he ran a private school he'd savage state education – he doesn't – he runs a private media organisation and he is attacking the BBC."

Congress adopted a motion adopted declaring the government's Digital Britain report to be "a woefully inadequate response to the crisis facing public service broadcasting, which has seen thousands of jobs axed at the BBC and ITV, and the halving of local and regional news at ITV."

The unions gathered at the Congress pledged their support for a campaign against top-slicing of the licence fee. Congress also called on the government to use industry levies to help ensure that quality content, such as news and current affairs, is still provided on commercial channels.

Proposing the TUC motion, Jeremy Dear condemned government plans to give 3.5 per cent of the licence fee to commercial broadcasters.

"Let's put this in to perspective – it is the equivalent of a Labour government taking money from NHS hospitals and handing it over to private health contractors.
"We're clear. There is a funding crisis for other public service broadcasters – for ITV, for Channel 4 – they should be supported to protect excellent public service programming and to deliver quality local news.
"But contrary to the claims of government ministers that there is no alternative to top slicing the BBC, to undermining the independence of the corporation, to calling in to question the link between the BBC and the licence fee payer, to opening up the licence fee to be raided by future governments, there are other options – but they require a political commitment to defending the public service against commercial interests."

Read Jeremy Dear's speech in full.

Tags: , tuc, public service broadcasting, top-slicing, bbc, james murdoch, tuc congress, digital britain, jobs, cuts, channel 4, itv