Joint Committee on Draft Communications Bill Report


314. Clause 223 gives a two-fold power to Ministers in relation to broadcast content. The first power, exercisable by any Minister, is to require the broadcasting or transmission of an announcement. The second power, exercisable only by a Secretary of State, is to require a broadcaster "to refrain from including in their licensed services any matter, or description of matter, specified in the notice". This broadly replicates the provisions of section 10 of the Broadcasting Act 1990, which in turn was preceded by similar powers in earlier legislation. The Government has stated that it expects these powers to be exercised "in connection with national security".[610] Professor Eric Barendt argued that the grounds for using the power to constrain broadcast content should be limited on the face of the Bill to those of national security or public safety.[611] The Joint Committee on Human Rights has similarly recommended that this power should be more specific.[612] We agree. We recommend that Clause 223 be amended to specify the circumstances in which the powers available to the Secretary of State under subsection (5) may be exercised.

610   EN, para 378. Back

611   Q 501. Back

612   JCHR, para 49. Back

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