Posted by 150/Kathleen Lowe
The government’s long-awaited White Paper on the future of the BBC will be presented to trade unionists and media campaigners by the minister responsible for broadcasting, James Purnell, on Saturday 1 April. That is also the new date of a major conference 'Keep Broadcasting Public - BBC Charter Renewal’ where Mr Purnell, Minister for Creative Industries and Tourism, will be the keynote speaker.
The event is being held at the London headquarters of the National Union of Journalists - a joint conference of the CPBF, TUC and the Federation of Entertainment Unions (FEU).
In the White Paper and accompanying agreements the government will lay down its proposals for the BBC’s next Royal Charter – the ground rules for the BBC’s operations over the next decade. The conference has been moved to 1 April because the White Paper is not now due until March and because the new date offers the opportunity to debate with the Minister directly.
The broadcasting unions are already grappling with extensive job cuts and privatisation being inflicted on their members at the BBC. They fear that an unfavourable Charter, influenced by pressure from the big commercial broadcasters and the government’s desire to keep the BBC on a tight rein, could leave the Corporation with a much reduced role as a public service broadcaster.
Arrangements are in hand for the CPBF to put these concerns to Mr Purnell at a meeting on 7 February and the April conference will reinforce the Campaign’s efforts. The event will analyse central issues such as ‘top slicing’ of the licence fee, BBC governance, the role of Ofcom, and keeping production in-house. It will also organise a concerted campaigning push on the Charter when it comes before Parliament in the late spring.
Full details of speakers and the conference agenda will appear in the next issue of Free Press. Meanwhile readers can use the enclosed flyer to register and keep up to date with developments by visiting this website.