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Media Diversity

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State 7:30 pm, 11th February 2020

I agree—that is the challenge in data collection, which should be more transparent. The hon. Lady makes a very good point.

In the time that is left, I will make some progress. The situation differs from that of print media. Newspapers tell the stories that reflect modern Britain. As a result, it is important that those working in print media are representative of the diversity of our country. The Government are committed to a free and independent press, and we do not interfere with what the press can and cannot publish. Of course, editors have responsibilities to the public, and should be held to account if they infringe individuals’ rights.

The press is subject to independent self-regulation. Anyone who is concerned about something published by a newspaper can make a complaint, either to a self-regulatory body, or to the publisher directly. As we said in the Government’s response to the Cairncross review, public interest news and journalism should reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom. Improving the diversity of newsrooms could help newspapers appeal to under-represented audiences. Appealing to under-represented audiences could also have a positive impact on sustainability. Many newspapers are doing good work in this area, with a number of national newspapers running diversity schemes.

The Government do not wish to interfere in any way with editorial freedoms, operations or decision making in newspapers, but we encourage the press to do more to increase diversity in journalism. The Government are committed to ensuring that equality and diversity are a key feature of all our interactions with industry. The work that is being done on improving the diversity of the print and broadcast media is part of the wider steps being taken within the creative industries. I am happy to say that much is being done in the creative industries to reflect our diverse country. Only last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Ukie’s “Raise the Game” diversity pledge with five founding partners, including heavy hitters Microsoft Xbox and Jagex, which aim to redress the balance of the games workforce which is currently 70% male and 12% privately educated—almost double the national average. Initiatives such as these and the “Creative Pioneers” of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising or Penguin Random House’s “WriteNow” programme, which has engaged 450 writers across nine regional workshops, provide positive first steps across sectors traditionally seen as a closed shop.

The Government recognise that much more can be done to bring about widespread and long-lasting change. Through the Creative Industries Council, we are working with industry to show strong leadership in this area. The recently announced diversity charter commits the creative sector to improving the quality of its diversity data as well as its recruitment practices, development, promotion and retention of staff at all levels in order to create a more diverse workforce and develop more output that appeals to people from all backgrounds and regions of the UK.

I thank the hon. Member for Battersea again for bringing this incredibly important debate to the Floor of the House. I am pretty sure that my son will not thank me for mentioning him, but there is important work being done across the media and creative industries to improve the diversity of the industry. I am pleased that organisations such as the BBC and other UK broadcasters have taken this seriously and are moving in the right direction. I want to finish by reiterating that there is still much to do and that the Government will continue to encourage the media industry to continue these efforts.

Question put and agreed to.

House adjourned.