Broadcasting: Impartiality

House of Lords written question – answered at on 2 March 2010.

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Photo of Lord Tebbit Lord Tebbit Conservative

To ask Her Majesty's Government what statutory obligations to ensure objectivity and fairness, impartiality or balance, are laid upon (a) the BBC, (b) other broadcasters, and (c) other elements of the media.

Photo of Lord Davies of Oldham Lord Davies of Oldham Deputy Chief Whip (House of Lords), HM Household, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords) , Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (and Deputy Chief Whip)

All broadcasters, other than the BBC, are required to comply with Ofcom's broadcasting code, which includes requirements as to (among other matters) the fairness, accuracy and impartiality of broadcast content. The BBC is required to comply with all requirements under Ofcom's code other than those relating to accuracy and impartiality which, in the corporation's case, are subject to regulation by the BBC Trust. The BBC agreement includes a number of specific obligations relating to the accuracy and impartiality of the corporation's output.

Newspaper publishers must, of course, abide by the law, but they also sign up to a code of practice overseen by the independent Press Complaints Commission. The editors' code of practice sets a benchmark for the standards the press is expected to maintain.

As with all lottery distributors, the UK Film Council (UKFC) is required by the National Lottery Act (s26 (1)) to comply with any directions given to them by the Secretary of State concerning the manner in which they distribute money. The statement of financial requirements requires UKFC to operate within the principles of administrative law, which include fairness, openness and transparency.

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