Declaration of "PSB after Hutton" Conference


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This international conference of politicians, trade union leaders, broadcasters, journalists, and practitioners, held by the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain and Ireland under the auspices of the IFJ’s global campaign Public Broadcasting for All, comes at a crucial time for the industry and the workforce in Great Britain. It is taking place in the shadow of increasingly aggressive demands from private media corporations to diminish the social model of public broadcasting and attempts to consign public media to the margins of minority broadcasting.

Noting that attacks against the BBC in the light of the Hutton Report are having an impact on Public Service Broadcasting in Britain and beyond at a time when private media are clamouring for deregulation and the break up of public media;

Believing that key values that made the BBC the world’s leading public service broadcaster are under threat of political and corporate interference;

Aware that increasing pressure on public finances and the liberalisation of trade have begun to have a negative impact on companies all over Europe as well as in Great Britain to maximise market share and increase their commercial revenues. The BBC has been particularly expanding, with operating revenues of more than €4 billion making it the second largest media corporation in Europe. These changes have been at a cost;

Witnessing that, although new technologies have brought in a new dimension, digitalisation is changing the way media professionals work, not always for the better. Broadcasting journalists find their jobs are less secure, they have to absorb and develop many new skills to accomplish tasks in a converged multi-media environment, and their intellectual property rights are undermined as media plunder their work for reuse and redistribution in new electronic information systems. The new technology has led to more pressure on journalists, leading to less opportunity to carry out their investigative roles;

Noting that the European Union, despite a legal basis for the protection of public broadcasting and the defence of cultural diversity, is going through a major crisis of the public broadcasting systems made worse by the challenge of an enlarged Europe;

This conference affirms that public service broadcasters should be protected and promoted to:

· ensure access for the civil society to a range of high quality programmes across the BBC and a range of broadcasters;

· deliver impartial news and information and programmes free from political and commercial pressures;

· cater for all sections of the community;

· be owned by the public and be accountable to the public;

· be properly funded through means such as a licence fee which guarantees freedom from commercial and political control.

This conference restates that broadcasting run on purely commercial terms is undesirable.

Public broadcasting is a major element of cultural diversity and a vital aspect of balance between the public interest and wider media corporate that produce standardized products.

Public broadcasting is also – and foremost - about people and about the need for their right to independent, quality oriented and pluralistic information.

Boards and senior managers should be selected through transparent processes that guarantee genuine independence

This Conference

· supports editorial self-regulation by journalists and media professionals that will promote editorial independence and high standards of accuracy, reliability, balance and quality for both public and private media;

· calls on Government to ensure that all sections of civil society are genuinely consulted in media reforms and developments;

· calls on IFJ affiliates to work with civil society, political forces and other interested groups to promote public support for the structures and values of PSB.

London, 22 May 2004