Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Centre for Justice and Liberty

  We are concerned that the publicly funded Radio Authority and its Chief Executive seem to be acting like a sort of competitor, lobbying against the interests of the UK independent Christian/religious broadcast industry instead of helping it to develop.

  We value this opportunity to correct, what we believe was misleading information.

  1.  John Grogan MP:

    ". . . you say that religious bodies should be prohibited from holding national radio licences because of this, the available spectrum. Could you just amplify the reason why you think that's the case? . . ."

  Radio Authority (RA):

    "That is the position of the present legislation, that has been tested in the European Court and has stood up, so we think that is right."

  Centre Response:

    This is not the case. The European Court of Human Rights has not tested, or yet even heard our case. In November 2000, the Court decided not to admit our case. We then submitted a complaint over misleading information with evidence and the Court granted a new application number on 14 March 2002, allowing us to refer to documents already sent to the Court and will deal with the case as soon as practicable.

  The case was based on European Convention Article 14 Prohibition of Discrimination, Article 9 Freedom of Religion and Article 10 Freedom of Expression.

  We question how publicly funded, professional regulators providing impartial, expert advice to a Parliamentary Committee could possibly describe this situation as "that has been tested in the European Court and has stood up".

  2.  RA:

    "There will, as far as we can possibly foresee only ever be three national commercial radio stations . . . We think the same applies to national digital radio where there is a similar, though not quite as intense, limitation on the number of frequencies."

  Centre Response:

  This is the answer we constantly receive, but no other broadcaster is told of frequency scarcity in the digital future let alone refused application forms for this reason. Whilst proclaiming frequency scarcity over Christian Radio, the Radio Authority recently licensed 10 new national digital radio stations: Classic, Virgin, TalkSport, Life Contemporary Pop Music, Planet Rock Music, Core Club Hits, One Word Speech Radio, Prime Time 50s Plus Music, Bloomberg Business Radio and ITN News.

  Also, 10 new national digital radio stations on a second national multiplex were recently allocated to the BBC. Christian/religious people are banned from all digital applications, including those that will be available when AM is digitised.

  3.  RA:

    "In New Zealand, which is completely deregulated, and also imposed no national restrictions on ownership, (apart from those Maori-owned stations), all New Zealand commercial radio stations are owned by two groups . . There is no local radio arising from the locality in New Zealand".

  Centre Response:

  This is not the case in New Zealand. There are actually two further national networks which carry commercials but they are Christian. These are Rhema Radio, and Southern Star which time-shares its frequencies with the Parliamentary Channel. The third national Christian radio network, Life FM, is being built up 13 local youth music stations. This has enabled a thriving Independent Christian Broadcasting Industry, owned, programmed and run by New Zealanders, to develop and fulfil national demand.

June 2002

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 6 August 2002