Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Buscombe Baroness Buscombe Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 9:15 pm, 8th February 2017

I am going to wait for a reply on that. I would like to be able to respond tonight, rather than saying that I will write to noble Lords; if the Committee will bear with me, let us just wait and see. I understand what the noble Lord is saying about bidders meeting the same standards as those who already have a licence.

It is a long-established condition of broadcast licences in the UK that news be reported with due accuracy and impartiality, as set out in Ofcom’s broadcasting code. Ofcom, as the regulator, governs compliance with this requirement of the code. The matters set out in the amendment at proposed new subsection 58(2F) would be dealt with by licence conditions and Ofcom’s broadcasting code, including provisions on fair and effective competition and the cross-promotion code, as well as matters that would be considered as part of the fit and proper person test. I have been informed that the fit and proper test can be looked at by Ofcom only once they hold a licence, but we believe that the provisions on genuine commitment to broadcasting standards give the Secretary of State the powers she needs in this regard.