The report of the Parliamentary Joint Scrutiny Committee on the draft Communications Bill, due to be published Wednesday, will condemn the “creeping Americanization” of television in the UK and present a robust argument against proposals to allow non-EU companies to acquire British terrestrial TV assets.
For which read Rupert Murdoch and Channel 5.
The committee's recommendations will not be to the liking of prime minister Tony Blair, whose ardent courtship of the media tycoon many believe is a trade-off for support from Murdoch's UK media empire (The Times, Sunday Times, The Sun, the News of the World and BSkyB) for a 'yes' vote in the euro currency referendum probably slated for 2003.
But according to Monday’s edition of The Independent, ‘senior government figures’ insist that Premier Blair will not back down on this issue and will veto the committee’s recommendations.
If he does so, the prime minister will be overturning the findings of a distinguished cross-party committee set-up with his backing specifically to provide a reasoned evaluation of this controversial issue. Blair will also meet robust opposition from his own party laced with increasingly frequent accusations of presidential delusions.
The committee’s report argues that there is no reciprocal arrangement in place in the USA, where foreign companies are barred from acquiring American broadcasters. It recommends that Ofcom, the new wall-to-wall regulator for the nation’s entire communications industry [WAMN: 26-Jul-02], should review the ownership rules before any final decision.
The PJSC will also propose that Ofcom supersedes the present BBC board of governors to oversee the state-owned broadcaster's competition with commercial rivals.
Data sourced from: Independent.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff broadcasters.