Don Foster MP

Don Foster MP - 76/267 - Bath's #1 Supporter

Don Foster: Labour’s view of a free press worrying

September 28, 2023 by admin in News

Commenting on Labour’s proposal for an official register for journalists from which they could be struck off, Liberal Democrat Media spokesperson, Don Foster, said:

“It is clear that self-regulation of the press has failed spectacularly and we need to put this right, but Labour’s plan for an official register is deeply flawed.

“It is muddled, completely unworkable and has worrying implications for Labour’s view of a free press. From your cousin’s occasional blog to some of the most respected journalists, all would be at risk of censure.

“Liberal Democrats have set out a clear, sensible plan for the future of media regulation and will be working to use this to put the media back on a sure footing.”

Within hours, plan to license all journalists is quietly shelved

September 28, 2023 by admin in News

IVAN LEWIS, the shadow culture secretary, was accused last night of making the “fastest U “turn in history” after abandoning a proposal to license journalists.

Hours earlier, Mr Lewis suggested that media companies should consider “striking off” journalists guilty of “gross malpractice”.

He faced a barrage of criticism over concerns that it would lead to the state authorising journalists in a manner associated with totalitarian regimes. Mr Lewis said later that he was not proposing a state register of reporters. In his speech, the shadow culture secretary sought to capitalise on Labour’s perceived success in addressing the phone hacking scandal.

The Conservatives accused Mr Lewis of proposing “half”baked ideas”.

Louise Mensch, a Tory member of the Commons culture media and sport committee, said: “Ivan Lewis must be going for the record for the fastest U”turn in history. This is another half—baked idea from a weak Labour leadership. We need a free, fair press, not some state registry for journalists.”

Ed Miliband was forced to intervene in the growing row to make it clear that the official register was not Labour policy.

Don Foster , the Liberal Democrats’ media spokesman, said: “It is clear that self”regulation of the press has failed spectacularly and we need to put this right. But Labour’s plan for an official register is deeply flawed. It is muddled, completely unworkable and has worrying implications for Labour’s view of a free press. From your cousin’s occasional blog to some of the most respected journalists, all would be at risk of censure.”

Victims’ rights are to be enshrined in law, the shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan will say today. Mr Khan will unveil plans for a Victims’ Law and will pledge to put them at the centre of Labour’s criminal justice policy.

The law will give victims of crime an automatic right to meet the prosecutor in their case. They will also be able to speak with a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer at the key stages of the trial.

The Full article can be read here https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8793280/Labour-Party-Conference-2011-Conservatives-claim-Labour-U-turn-on-media-licences.html

Don Foster MP urges House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to discuss F1 broadcasting deal

September 27, 2023 by admin in News

Loyal Formula One fans are justifiably outraged by the situation they have been left in following the deal between the BBC, BSkyB and Formula One Management.

Many are concerned about the unclear circumstances that led to this arrangement and the seeming lack of accountability of those involved. Important questions remain unanswered about how this deal happened, and whether it was done in the best interests of licence fee payers and fans.

What happened?

In early September, Don Foster MP wrote to the BBC’s Mark Thompson and Formula One Management chief executive Bernie Ecclestone. He was primarily concerned that F1 fans in the UK, who are also licence fee payers, had no one speaking up for what was in their interests.” Particularly discomfiting were claims that the BBC was the main facilitator of the end result. The apparent discrepancies between the stories given by FOM and the BBC of what happened - and even changes to those accounts - has done little to help the situation.

Following publication of Don’s letters numerous complaints appeared on the BBC blogs. However, it appears that the BBC deleted many comments on the basis that they were ‘off topic’. Why did the BBC quickly downgrade the prominence of the debate and not allow an open forum for discussion?

Recent developments

Don’s letters have successfully triggered a round of private discussions with those involved in the deal, including between Don and Bernie Ecclestone.

Don is shortly to have a meeting with the BBC’s Head of Sports.

To date, none of the key players (BBC, F1 and BSkyB) are publicly commenting on the grounds that they are unable to release commercially sensitive information.

However, the BBC has made clear that it has had to respond to a significant cut in its Licence Fee income. It has also had totake on new funding responsibilities (such as the BBC World Service and Welsh language broadcaster S4C).

But questions remain.

In particular, did the way the BBC do a deal with BSkyB prevent other free-to-air broadcasters (ITV, C4 and C5) bidding?

The BBC has said, it did not block any other broadcaster from submitting a bid for the rights to F1 either on their own or in conjunction with another broadcaster…Bidding for the rights in conjunction with Sky was in the best interests of all licence fee payers given the need to deliver a balanced portfolio of sporting events.

This is contrary to Bernie Ecclestone’s earlier claims that BBC ‘held all the cards’, He has quickly abandoned his line of argument claiming we would have loved to have stayed with the BBC but they could guarantee nothing (Quoted in the Express). As such, a deal without BSkyB was ‘not realistic’. This has merely added to the confusion

The future

Don will meet with the Head of BBC Sports but, as with his discussions with Bernie Ecclestone, it may be that he is unable to make public the outcome.

It is hoped that when the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee questions Mark Thompson and the BBC Trust Chairman, Lord Patten, the F1 deal will form part of the discussion. However, this is a matter for a Committee on which Don Foster does NOT sit and, currently, the indications are that the matter may well NOT be raised.

Don Foster has written to the Chairman of the Committee, John Whittingdale MP, asking that the issue is discussed. Don also hopes that - with pressure from their own constituents - other MPs will do likewise.

If you want to help, please contact your own MP asking him / her to write to the Select Committee Chair, John Whittingdale MP, and ensure the F1 broadcasting deal is discussed at the next House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

You can find out who your MP is by clicking this link and entering your postcode: https://findyourmp.parliament.uk/