Exam date

When's the 2016 exam? Wednesday 8th June, am.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

2015 General Election: Media Policy

Rather than post a stack of posts reacting to policy announcements and eventual manifesto pledges, I'll gather links and points in this post.

Key (probable) issues:
  • Future of BBC, funding, downsizing?; form of BBC regulation (scrap Trust?)
  • Wider future of PSB requirements
  • Future/role of OfCom
  • Watershed in digital era
  • Extending ratings system to music video and other media content
  • Press regulation, Leveson response, IPSO
  • Privacy laws, protection of journalists' right to privacy
  • Film industry state funding
  • Pluralism, (concentration of) ownership, cross-media ownership limits
I've been saving a variety of links, but the Media Guardian has come to my rescue on this one!
Here's their helpfully pithy overview (written by Jasper Jackson):

Plans for the media industry may not be seen as a big vote winner this election, but the manifestos published over the past few days suggest that each party has a very different take on the industry.

The future of the BBC, press regulation and media plurality cropped up regularly with big differences between Labour and the Conservatives, even thought they kept their manifesto promises on the media vague. The Conservatives kept up pressure on the BBC, while Miliband continued his seemingly popular attempts to challenge media empires, in particular Rupert Murdoch’s combined might in the form of the Sun and Times.
It was left to the Lib Dems to offer the most comprehensive proposals, including detailed protection for press freedom and commitments to media plurality, while the Greens, Ukip and SNP all went for promises that match their specific agendas.


Worrying for the BBC, not much for anyone else.
  • Will freeze the licence fee at least until the next BBC charter renewal to “save you money”.
  • Will continue to top-slice the fee, which currently contributes £150m to broadband rollout.
  • Consult on business rate relief for local newspapers.
  • Provide “explicit protection” for journalists in a British bill of rights.
  • Ensure police cannot access journalists records under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) without court approval.


Worrying for big commercial beasts such as the Murdoch empire, not much for anyone else (except Channel 4).
  • Will “take steps to protect media plurality”, but does not specify how media ownership would be judged or if there should be a cap.
  • Expects press to establish mechanism for independent regulation, “as set out in royal charter”.
  • Commitment to keep Channel 4 in public ownership.
  • Praises BBC’s “vital contribution to the richness of our cultural life”.

Liberal Democrats

Good for journalists, worrying for regulation-fearing press.
  • Introduce public-interest defence for journalists breaking the law.
  • Create a “first amendment law” to make courts and public bodies take into account the importance of a free press.
  • Ensure journalists have right to challenge Ripa requests for access to journalists communications before they happen, unless it will endanger an investigation.
  • Remove ministers from influencing the appointment of board members to Ofcom or the BBC Trust.
  • Legislate for an independent system of press regulation if after 12 months “there is significant non-cooperation by newspaper publishers”.


Good for licence fee dodgers, bad for civil servants.
  • To decriminalise the non-payment of the licence fee and look at reducing the cost of the £145.50 payment.
  • Abolish the Department for Culture Media and Sport.


Good for journalists and BBC, if it can get its sums right.
  • Replace licence fee with funding from centralised taxation “guaranteed in real terms in statute to prevent government interference”, which it says will cost £3.2bn. However, does not take into account £500m government pays on behalf of over-75s.
  • Scrap Ripa, partly to protect journalists.
  • Pass further legislation to enforce the Leveson system of press regulation if all major newspapers do not agree to a system backed by royal charter.


Good for Scotland.
  • Change way licence fee take is distributed to give BBC Scotland more than £100m extra funding.
  • Transfer control of broadcasting in Scotland to the Scottish Parliament and influence BBC charter renewal to protect Scottish interests.
  • Review progress on implementation of Leveson proposals.

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