Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1500
WEDNESDAY 14 DECEMBER 2005
Lord Currie of Marylebone and Mr Tim Suter
Q1500 Lord Peston:
Lord Currie of Marylebone: Yes. I am meeting
with the CBI this lunchtime. We take a view that it is appropriate
for us to expose ourselves to the views of ordinary people and
organisations out there that have views and interests in what
we are doing.
Q1501 Lord Peston:
You do not feel, for example, that what we really need is not
a body of this sort but a body that would be called the Central
Morality and Ethical Advisory Committee? Is that not the body
you ought to be looking for somewhere? Is that not the issue?
Mr Suter: There are specific issues when it
comes to offence in relation to religious programming where we
do not necessarily have the sensibilities within Ofcom, or the
range of faiths or knowledge, to be able to respond to issues
of offence that are brought to us by, for instance, the Tamil
community in relation to a piece of broadcasting. It is important
for us to have access to people who can authoritatively tell us
where a line has or has not been crossed. It is important to have
Lord Currie of Marylebone: I have no doubt that
if the body you have mentioned existed we would be meeting with
Chairman: You think that is up to somebody
else to set up?
Lord Holme of Cheltenham: Lord Peston!
Just one point of fact. You answered Lord Peston and said basically
it is a BBC committee, but I understood its members are appointed
jointly by the BBC and Ofcom Content Board?
Mr Suter: They are appointed by the BBC; the
Content Board has been consulted on recent appointments.
So are they jointly appointed?
Mr Suter: No.
They are appointed by the BBC?
Mr Suter: They are appointed by the BBC.
But the BBC goes to the Content Board and says, "Have you
got any suggestions or proposals"?
Mr Suter: And advises us of who they are intending
If the Humanists or others were an inside body you would consult
with them as well?
Mr Suter: Of course.
Do you at the moment?
Mr Suter: With the
With non-religious bodies. Do you talk to the Humanists or someone
Mr Suter: We will talk to any organisation that
can help us in forming the judgments we have to form.
Q1509 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
I just want to come back to your document and the programme code
review where I think you printed some very interesting comments
by people which give the right balance of where people might have
concerns if broadcasters were not taking the right view of things
that are being put over. Perhaps being a little bit specific,
getting a bit too like some of the stuff that goes on in American
broadcasting of religion. Given the different areas in which broadcasts
are now being heard and accessed and so on, are you at all concerned
that some of the areas that are quite clearly the responsibility
that your code is concerned about will just drift in and people
perhaps will be persuaded in areas that certainly religion in
this country would not want them to be persuaded: giving money,
watching certain forms of religious activity that might influence
children, you know what I am talking about, that are in the code?
Mr Suter: Beyond question, the environment we
live in now makes those sorts of channels available to people
who have access to satellite and cable technology, for instance.
They can get those channels. They are not licensed in the UK,
they are licensed elsewhere, but they are freely available here.
It is not that this broadcasting is not available. The question
for us is what broadcasting we wish to license, and that is an
important distinction. Just because something is available elsewhere
does not mean to say that it should be licensed by us. It might
mean we should license similar programmes but it does not necessarily
mean that we should, we may take a stricter rule in regard to
some kinds of broadcasting that prey on particular sensibilities.
Until now we have taken that line with some kinds of religious
broadcasting on television, limiting the ability to appeal directly
for funds, for instance, because of the concern we have about
Q1510 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
Is that available via the Internet?
Mr Suter: Of course it is available via the
Internet and it is available from
Q1511 Baroness Howe of Idlicote:
But you have not much control over the Internet.
Mr Suter: No, nor indeed over channels that
are licensed outside the UK.
Q1512 Lord King of Bridgwater:
On this business about the European Commission's Premier League
rights, Talk Radio complained to you about the radio rights being
exclusive to the BBC and you waited to see what the European Commission
were going to do about television. Did anybody complain to you
about the television situation or did the European Commission
do it off their own bat? You had a complaint only on the radio
rights that came to you, you do not seem to have had a complaint
on the television, is that right?
Lord Currie of Marylebone: Are you talking about
the Premier League?
Q1513 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Lord Currie of Marylebone: That is a matter
for the European Commission.
Q1514 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Somebody complained to you about the radio rights, Talk Radio,
but did anyone complain to you about the television?
Mr Suter: We have had no complaints on the television.
We knew this was a subject that was for the Commission anyway
and which the Commission would be picking up.
Q1515 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Was radio not something for the Commission?
Mr Suter: It is a separate issue. The issue
that Talk Radio brought to us was in relation to the BBC purchase
of those rights which we stood off until we knew where the FAPL
and the Commission would come out.
Q1516 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Television appears to be a matter for the Commission, radio does
not, but they have both got exclusive coverage, one in radio and
one in television.
Mr Suter: They would both be a matter for the
Commission, but the Commission is deciding on the appropriate
allocation of FAPL rights going forward.
Q1517 Lord King of Bridgwater:
You waited until you saw what the Commission had to say. Are you
now going to say any more on the radio issue?
Mr Suter: I think it is not yet clear where
the Commission is going to end up. We have indications of where
it will end up but I do not think it is yet clear.
Q1518 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Is Talk Radio waiting to hear from you? Have you said to them,
"Hang on; we will wait to see what the Commission says"?
Mr Suter: We said to Talk Radio we will wait
to see the outcome of the European deliberations, and that is
still the position.
Q1519 Lord King of Bridgwater:
Would it be in your power to say, "The Commission says six
packages; nobody can have more than five"? Are you likely
to do that with radio and say the BBC can only have that and somebody
else can have some of the gains?
Lord Currie of Marylebone: That is a matter
for consideration when we know the outcome of the FAPL.