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Author Topic:  BBC should ask Leveson to probe Murdoch pressure on licence fee say the NUJ  (Read 1422 times)

darcysarto

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Mark Thompson finally gets the chance to be a leader rather than the man who forced a no confidence vote in his staff.  Ermmm.

No one should under-estimate the importance of this request.

From http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/may/14/bbc-leveson-murdoch-licence-fee?

Quote

BBC director general Mark Thompson has been asked by the National Union of Journalists to call for an investigation into what it claims is possible influence by James Murdoch on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport over the BBC licence fee.

The union has written a letter to outgoing BBC boss Thompson and urged him to ask the Leveson inquiry to probe the issue.

In October 2010 the BBC agreed a hastily-negotiated licence fee settlement after being threatened by the government with having to take on paying for 556m worth of subsidised licence fees for over 75-year-olds.

The then BBC Trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, almost resigned over the threat and instead the corporation agreed to take on other funding commitments including the World Service and S4C and the licence fee was frozen at 145.50 for six years, a 16% cut in real terms.

The union's letter, which has also been sent to BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, urges Thompson to write "a public letter in the press expressing your concern" and make a "request to DCMS backed up, if necessary, by [a freedom of information] request for the release of all documents, emails and records of communication between the Murdoch empire and DCMS over this issue".

Written by the chair of the NUJ's London branch committee, David Campanale, on behalf of its members, the letter said: "Rupert Murdoch's written evidence to the inquiry reveals that 'I have recently been told that my son James discussed certain BBC issues with Jeremy Hunt, both before and after the 2010 general election'.

"It is common knowledge that Murdoch executives have wanted cuts in the licence fee; and there is a documented history of ministers reflecting Murdoch priorities in their policy statements."

Campanale added: "We are certain that BBC management will be as keen to see this investigated as we are, given the scale of the cutbacks stemming from a licence fee settlement which you yourself described as "tough". If it were found that DCMS staff did not act independently in this matter, the BBC would be entitled indeed, obliged to demand a review of the settlement.

The union concluded: "We are therefore asking you to call publicly for the matter to be investigated."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "We've received the letter and will respond in due course."

The letter in full

To: Mark Thompson-and-PA

Cc: Chris Patten - BBC Trust

Subject: To Mark Thompson from the London Branch Committee of the National Union of Journalists


Dear Mark,

We are writing to ask what action you are planning to take given the evidence of collusion that has emerged from the Leveson inquiry between staff at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Murdoch business empire over the proposed takeover of BSkyB.

As you know, the Leveson inquiry has turned up evidence that appears to show DCMS staff acting in the interests of Rupert Murdoch in precisely the period when the DCMS was also engaged in setting the licence fee. Rupert Murdoch's written evidence to the inquiry reveals that 'I have recently been told that my son James discussed certain BBC issues with Jeremy Hunt, both before and after the 2010 General Election.' It is common knowledge that Murdoch executives have wanted cuts in the licence fee; and there is a documented history of ministers reflecting Murdoch priorities in their policy statements.

Taken together, this evidence indicates the possibility that the damaging freeze in BBC finances an effective cut imposed by the 2010 licence fee settlement resulted partly from influence exerted on DCMS by the Murdoch empire.

We are certain that BBC management will be as keen to see this investigated as we are, given the scale of the cutbacks stemming from a licence fee settlement which you yourself described as "tough". If it were found that DCMS staff did not act independently in this matter, the BBC would be entitled indeed, obliged to demand a review of the settlement. This could potentially lift the axe hanging over several arms of BBC output, avoid some of the worst cuts under DQF, and allow the BBC to offer salary and pensions settlements that remove the possibility of industrial action.

We are therefore asking you to call publicly for the matter to be investigated, by:

- writing to the Leveson inquiry asking it to probe possible Murdoch influence on DCMS over the BBC licence fee;

- a request to DCMS backed up, if necessary, by an FoI request for the release of all documents, emails and records of communication between the Murdoch empire and DCMS over this issue;

- a public letter in the press expressing your concern.

In doing so, you would be supported by MPs who have tabled a Commons motion requesting the Prime Minister to ensure that details of communications between the Murdoch empire and DCMS are made public.

We urge you to act without delay, to defend the BBC, its employees and its services to the public.

Yours sincerely,

David Campanale

Chair,

On behalf of the BBC London Branch Committee

National Union of Journalists

cc. Lord Patten of Barnes



Tiger

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It is indeed a vital request.

Today, we have the depressing news from the BBC Trust that BBC local radio will still have to be cut to find savings and services WILL suffer.

No cuts are needed to BBC local radio. Jeremy Hunt should be forced to give back the 25m that he has taken from the fee payer, with Mark Thompson's consent to fund his commercial local TV project. His handling of the fee settlement is now in doubt in terms of his potential Murdoch bias and general integrity.


The agenda was clear a couple of years ago AND Mark Thompson may soon be tarred with similar sleaze unless he fully co operates with the NUJ request.

This from the Guardian in 2009.

"It's all been coming since the spring, David Cameron saying in March that he
was going to freeze the BBC licence fee. I just hope it's a "cast-iron
guarantee". Then along comes James Murdoch at the MacTaggart lecture and
says the BBC licence fee should be cut. Next the Murdochs complain about the
taxpayers' money that the BBC spends on US programmes; they argue that
regulations are pushing advertising revenue to Google; that the BBC is
competing through local radio without effective restraint; that the BBC's
website is competing unfairly with commercial publishers. And then as they
sing all that from the mountain top, in October there comes an answering
contralto - Jeremy Hunt, the Tories' shadow culture secretary, says: "[We
will have] a very fundamental root-and-branch discussion with the BBC about
all its activities across the piece." Their shadow culture minister, Ed
Vaizey, praises Sky One as a public service broadcaster and suggests
auctioning off Radio 1. All that is interestingly specific from a party that
has made a great virtue of not being specific about anything. Do I think
that they made a deal with the Murdochs? More things are cock-up than
conspiracy, but this isn't cock-up."

Tiger

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There are indeed many questions that need to be answered here.

One would be..why the BBC Panorama program into phone hacking..was delayed from air..for months..because of pressure being put upon the BBC?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 09:59:51 PM by Tiger »


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