Media Bill Report Stage

On Tuesday 30 January 2024 the Media Bill underwent the Report Stage and Third Reading. This Bill updates the legislative framework for public service broadcasting (PSB), sets out provisions to deliver content on digital platforms, and updates the commercial radio framework. While I support this Bill, I believe it has been far too long in the making. The delays have held back the UK’s world leading PSBs and have subsequently affected the productivity of the creative industries as a whole. Our PSBs are a fundamental part of British cultural life. I supported amendments that I believe would have strengthened the Bill, benefitted people across the country and helped to support our broadcasters in the coming years. I am concerned that the Bill does not go far enough to shape the industry for the next decade, and falls short when it comes to digital rights for listed events. The rights to broadcast moments of national sporting importance are offered first to channels such as the BBC and ITV, enabling the broadest possible range of people to watch. By not extending this to online clips and highlights, the Bill risks preventing thousands of people from the joy of watching Britain compete on the world stage. I supported an amendment to address this issue, which was voted down.

Language is a daily expression of our history, and Gaelic language broadcasting is an important forum for that expression. I remain concerned that this is still not recognised in legislation in the same way as other minority language services are. I therefore supported an amendment calling for a review into whether a Gaelic language service should be given a public service broadcast remit. Disappointingly, this was also voted down. Lastly, an amendment was laid that would have allowed the possibility of commencing subsection 2 of Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. This subsection incentivises publishers to join a recognised press regulator by granting them protection against high-cost court cases. I want to see a financially sustainable free press in the UK that is regulated in a way that makes it accountable for its reporting and that meets the highest ethical and journalistic standards. Despite my support, this amendment was also voted down. This Bill has now progressed through the House of Commons and will now undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords.

Media Bill Report Stage: Amendment 2, Voted Aye and result was Ayes: 195 Noes: 284
Media Bill Report Stage: New Clause 16, Voted Aye and result was: Aye: 193 and Noes: 295
Media Bill Report Stage: New Clause 13, Voted Aye and the result was: Aye: 194 and Noes: 294

New Clause 16

Listed Events

“(1) The Broadcasting Act 1996 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 97 (as amended by section 299 of the Communications Act 2003), after subsection (1B) insert—

“(1A) The following events must be included in Group A of the list drawn up under subsection (1)—

(a) the Olympic Games;

(b) the Paralympic Games;

(c) the FIFA World Cup Finals Tournament;

(d) the FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals Tournament;

(e) the European Football Championship Finals Tournament;

(f) the European Women’s Football Championship Finals Tournament;

(g) the FA Cup Final;

(h) the Scottish FA Cup Final;

(i) the Grand National;

(j) the Wimbledon Tennis Finals;

(k) the Rugby Union World Cup Final;

(l) Six Nations Rugby Tournament Matches Involving Home Countries;

(m) the Derby;

(n) the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final;

Column 807is located here

(o) any match involving the national teams of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England pertaining to qualification for the events listed in paragraphs (c), (d), (e) and (f).””—(Gavin Newlands.)

This new clause would make it compulsory for the Secretary of State to place the list of sporting events in Group A of listed sporting events, ensuring they are available on free to air television in their entirety. The events consist of all current Group A events plus the home nations World Cup and Euro qualifiers.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.