Amendments proposed to the Communications Bill - continued House of Commons

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Duties of BBC as respects independent productions for radio

   

Michael Fabricant
Mr Andrew Lansley

NC16

To move the following Clause:—

    '(1)   It shall be the duty of the BBC to secure that, in each relevant period, not less than the prescribed percentage of the total amount of time allocated to the broadcasting of qualifying programmes in the radio broadcasting services provided by them is allocated to the broadcasting of a range and diversity of independent productions.

    (2)   In subsection (1)—

      (a) the reference to prescribed percentage is a reference to the percentage which the Secretary of State may by order specify;

      (b) the reference to qualifying programmes is a reference to programmes of such description as the Secretary of State may by order specify as describing the programmes that are to be qualifying programmes for the purposes of that section;

      (c) the reference to independent productions is a reference to programmes of such description as the Secretary of State may by order specify as describing the programmes that are to be independent productions for the purposes of that subsection; and

      (d) the reference to a range of independent productions is a reference to a range of programmes in terms of cost of acquisition as well as in terms of the types of programme involved.

    (3)   Before making an order under subsection (2) above the Secretary of State shall consult with OFCOM.

    (4)   OFCOM shall, in each relevant period, make a report to the Secretary of State on the extent to which the BBC have performed their duty under subsection (1) above in that period.'.


Irish language television programmes

   

Mr Simon Thomas

NC17

To move the following Clause:—

    '.—(1)   The Secretary of State—

      (a) may, for the financial year beginning with 1st April 2004, and

      (b) shall, for each subsequent financial year,

       pay to OFCOM such amount as he may, with the approval of the Treasury, determine to be appropriate for the purposes of this section.

    (2)   Any amount received by OFCOM under subsection (1) shall be carried by them to the credit of a fund established by them under this section, to be known as the Irish Language Television Fund (and any such amount shall accordingly not be regarded as forming part of the revenues of OFCOM).

    (3)   The Fund shall be under the management of a body established for the purposes of this section, which shall be called Coiste Teilifise Gaeilge (the Irish Language Television Committee).

    (4)   Coiste Teilifise Gaeilge shall consist of no more than 10 members, the members and Chairman of the Committee are to be appointed by OFCOM.

    (5)   The committee shall include members nominated by the following bodies—

      (a) Foras na Gaeilge (Irish Language Agency, Cross-Border Language Body);

      (b) Ultach Trust;

      (c) TG4;

      (d) BBC NI;

      (e) The Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission.

    (6)   OFCOM must secure, so far as practicable, that the membership of the Committee is such that the interests of the following are adequately represented—

      (a) the independent television production sector in Northern Ireland;

      (b) other persons and bodies concerned with the promotion of the Irish language in Northern Ireland;

      (c) other persons and bodies concerned with Irish-medium education and the teaching of Irish in the English-medium educational sector in Northern Ireland.

    (7)   When appointing members of the Committee, OFCOM must have regard to—

      (a) the desirability of having members of the committee who are proficient in written and spoken Irish;

      (b) any guidance issued by the Secretary of State for the purposes of this section.

    (8)   The Fund may be applied by the Committee—

      (a) in the making of grants for the following purposes, namely—

      (i) financing the making of television programmes in the Irish language primarily with a view to the broadcasting of such programmes by TG4 and/or other appropriate broadcasters for reception in Northern Ireland and elsewhere;

      (ii) financing the training of persons employed or to be employed in connection with the making of such programmes; and

      (iii) other purposes connected with or related to the making of such programmes; and

      (b) in financing the undertaking of research into the types of television programmes in the Irish language that members of the Irish-speaking community in Northern Ireland would like to be broadcast.

    (9)   When making any grant out of the Fund in pursuance of subsection (8) the Committee may impose such conditions as they think fit, including conditions requiring the grant to be repaid in specified circumstances.

    (10)   The Committee shall perform their functions under this section with respect to the making of grants out of the Fund in such manner as they consider will secure that a wide range of high quality television programmes in the Irish language are broadcast for reception in Northern Ireland.

    (11)   Any sums required by the Secretary of State under subsection (1) shall be paid out of money provided by Parliament.

    (12)   In this section:

       "OFCOM" means the Office of Communications;

       "the Committee" means the body esablished under subsection (3) above;

       "TG4" means the dedicated Irish language station broadcasting from the Republic of Ireland and cited as "Teilifis na Gaeilge" in the Belfast Agreement, Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity: Economic, Social and Cultural Issues, Paragraph 4.'.


BBC statements of programme policy

   

Mr John Whittingdale
Mr John Greenway
Mr Andrew Robathan
Mr Mark Hoban

NC18

To move the following Clause:—

    '(1)   Any agreement made (whether before or after the coming into force of this section) between the BBC and the Secretary of State to regulate the provision of the BBC's services shall include (and in the event the agreement does not so include shall be deemed to include) an obligation on the BBC—

      (a) as soon as practicable after the coming into force of this section and subsequently at annual intervals to prepare and publish a statement of programme policy for each of the BBC's services; and

      (b) for the BBC to monitor its own performance in the carrying out of the proposals contained in the statements.

    (2)   Every statement of programme policy must include—

      (a) proposals for securing that during the following year—

      (i) the public service role of the BBC and the BBC's services will be fulfilled;

      (ii) the functions, duties and obligations of the BBC and the BBC services as set out in the Charter and Agreement will be fulfilled;

      (iii) such other matters as OFCOM may determine from time to time;

      (b) a report on the performance of the BBC in the carrying out, during the period since the previous statement, of the proposals contained in that statement.

    (3)   The BBC shall comply with subsection (4) in the case of a statement of programme policy containing proposals for a significant change.

    (4)   This subsection requires the BBC—

      (a) to consult OFCOM before preparing the statement; and

      (b) to take account, in the preparation of the statement, of any opinions expressed by OFCOM.

    (5)   If it appears to OFCOM that a statement of programme policy has been prepared by the BBC in contravention of a condition imposed under subsection (4), the BBC must—

      (a) revise that statement in accordance with any directions given to it by OFCOM; and

      (b) publish a revision of the statement in accordance with any such directions only after the revision has been approved by OFCOM.

    (6)   A change is a significant change for the purposes of this section if it is a change as a result of which the service would in any year be materially different in character from in previous years.

    (7)   In determining under this section whether a change is a significant change—

      (a) regard must be had to any guidance issued by OFCOM;

      (b) the changes to be considered include any changes that, together with any proposed change for a particular year, would constitute a change occurring gradually over a period of not more than three years; and

      (c) the previous years with which a comparison is to be made must be those immediately preceding the year in which the change is made, or in which the changes comprised in it began to occur.

    (8)   It shall be the duty of OFCOM—

      (a) from time to time to review the guidance for the time being in force for the purposes of this section; and

      (b) to make such revisions of that guidance as they think fit.'.


Duty of OFCOM in relation to the BBC's new services

   

Mr John Whittingdale
Mr John Greenway
Mr Andrew Robathan
Mr Mark Hoban

NC19

To move the following Clause:—

    '(1)   Prior to the Secretary of State approving under the Charter or the Agreement the provision by the BBC of any new service or changes to an existing service whether or not a broadcasting or programme supply service it shall be the duty of OFCOM to prepare and publish a report commenting on whether the proposed new service or changes to the existing service will satisfy the objectives set out in subsection (2).

    (2)   The objectives referred to in subsection (1) are—

      (a) the new service or the changes to the existing service are compatible with the BBC's primary public service role as set out in the Charter and Agreement and that it shall further any or all of the public purposes of the BBC or any of the services it provides as set out in those documents;

      (b) that the value to the public of the new service or changes to an existing service will be proportionate to the likely impact on the market;

      (c) that the new service will be universally accessible within a reasonable period of time free at the point of use;

      (d) that the new service or the changes to the existing service will represent value for money for licence fee payers.

    (3)   It shall be the duty of OFCOM—

      (a) as soon as practicable after the end of the period of twelve months beginning with the commencement of this section; and

      (b) as soon as practicable after the end of each subsequent period as may be selected by OFCOM for the purposes of this section

       to satisfy, for that period, the review and reporting obligations of subsection (4).

    (4)   The review and reporting obligations are—

      (a) an obligation to carry out a review of the extent to which new services provided by the BBC and changes to existing services—

      (i) comply with the terms of the approval granted by the Secretary of State for such new services or changes to existing services; and

      (ii) satisfy the objectives set out in subsection (2);

      (b) an obligation to prepare a report on the matters found on the review.

    (5)   In this section

       "Charter" means the Royal Charter for the Continuance of the British Broadcasting Corporation—May 1996 and any renewal or replacement thereof;

       "Agreement" means any agreement made (whether before or after the coming into force of this section) between the BBC and the Secretary of State to regulate the provision of the BBC's services and the carrying on by the BBC of other activities for purposes connected with the provision of those services.

    (6)   In this section for the purposes of the review and reporting obligations of OFCOM "new services" shall mean all new services approved (whether before or after the coming into force of this section) by the Secretary of State under the Charter or the Agreement.'.

 
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