Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the directors of the Centre for Justice and Liberty to the Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you to both you and your colleagues for calling us before your Committee last Monday evening. We hope we managed to answer your questions clearly and constructively over the problems facing the UK Christian media broadcast industry.

  We reaffirm our willingness to accept the approach aired by your Committee, namely additional safeguards in place of the statutory discrimination against ownership, which our industry currently faces in Clause 232 of the draft Bill.

  However, whilst everybody else is moving forward to light touch regulation, we already comply with the heaviest regulations applied to any broadcasters in this country. Please note, these are in addition to the rules currently applying to all broadcasters. As you can see, a few more are hardly likely to make much difference.

  However, we would ask your Committee to try to ensure, within any recommendations, that the Authorities do not simply lift the discriminatory disqualification from the law, and reword it before adding it into the codes.

  In other words, adding to the content rules would be a waste of time if the end result is the Authorities not allowing any content at all for Christian broadcasters. In 1990, a similar problem had to be tackled by the House of Commons Churches Commissioner, when the regulatory authorities tried to over-rule Parliament over freedom for religious persons or bodies to be allowed to broadcast advertisements (Hansard, Commons 25 October 1990, column 597-98, Alison).

  Lastly, for clarification to Nick Harvey MP's question, we confirm our support for the news and current affairs code requiring that any news given (in whatever form) is presented with due accuracy and impartiality.

24 June 2002

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