for a diverse, democratic and accountable media
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Jonathan Hardy and Peter Murray, a member of the NUJ national executive and a well-known reporter with BBC Scotland met the MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on 14 November. They warned that the Government must be stopped from opening UK media outlets to media moguls outside the EEA. It was vital that the bill be changed so as to retain and strengthen media ownership restrictions designed to promote plurality and diversity. Jonathan Hardy stressed that Scottish production and programmes about Scotland would soon be a thing of the past unless the Communications Bill made sure that much stronger public service obligations were written into broadcasters' licences. The licences, he argued, should stipulate a minimum level of investment in original, high quality productions covering news and current affairs and programmes of specific interest to the nations and regions of the UK. MSPs were urged to press Scotland's First Minister for a members' debate on the bill, to call for the new super-regular OFCOM to be obliged to consult the Scottish Parliament and to push for a representative for Scotland on the main OFCOM board, the Content Board and the Consumer Panel. The briefing took place at a time of major upheaval in Scottish communications with the Scottish Media Group struggling to pay a 408 million pound debt by selling off assets including the Glasgow-based titles The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times.