B1485 – Broadcasting Bill 2019 (Second Reading) Watch

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What is this thread about?
This is a bill in the Model House of Commons (MHoC). It's a piece of proposed legislation that is currently being debated, and there's a good chance that the House will later vote on whether to pass it into TSR law. All are welcome and encouraged to ask questions about the bill's content and join in the debate – you don't have to be in a party or be an MP to do so.

What is the MHoC?
It's a political role-playing game where we pretend to be the House of Commons, and it's been going since 2005. We have formed parties, we have elections twice a year, and we debate bills and motions just like the real-life parliament. If you want to know more about how the MHoC works, your first port of call is the user manual. If you'd like to get involved and possibly join a party, you want the welcome thread.


B1485 – Broadcasting Bill 2019 (Second Reading), TSR Liberal Democrats
Broadcasting Bill 2019
A bill to reform current broadcasting guidelines regarding watershed viewing, abolish the television license fee, relax television and radio rules on political advertising, and reopen bidding for ITV franchises.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1. Reform of watershed restrictions
(1) Section 319(2)(a) of the Communications Act 2003 shall be amended from:

2. The standards objectives are—
(a) that persons under the age of eighteen are protected;

To:

2. The standards objectives are—
(a) that persons under the age of eighteen are protected;
(i) that this protection incorporates the presentation of sexually explicit, pornographic or violent graphic material within watershed regulations.
(ii) that care is taken to ensure younger children (those aged between 0 and 7 years old) are protected from the use of expletives in programming.
(iii) that in order to allow this, a preparatory watershed will be enforced between the hours of 7pm and 9pm, during which content containing the use of expletives can gradually be aired.
(iv) that more graphic material will remain under the constraints of the pre-existing watershed schedule.

(2) Section 319 (2)(f) of the Communications Act 2003 will be amended from:

(f) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;

To:

(f) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
(i) these standards shall be reviewed by the Broadcasting and Advertising Conduct Authority. on a yearly basis, to ensure that convention is not solely restricted by tradition.

2. Abolition of the Television License Fee
(1) Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003 is hereby repealed.
(2) The Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004 is repealed.
(3) The television license fee is hereby abolished.


3. Replacement of BBC Funding
(1) In the next budget, the government will make funds available to replace the income of the BBC through the license fee.
(2) These funds should not exceed the BBC’s projected income minus its expenditure for the financial year.
(3) These funds shall rise alongside the rate of inflation for the remainder of the BBC’s Royal Charter.

4. Relaxation of Rules on Political Advertising
(1) Section 321 (2), Section 321 (3) and Section 321 (7) of the Communications Act 2003 is hereby repealed.
(2) The ban on political advertising is hereby repealed, however political adverts must carry the following conditions:
(a) Political adverts must be explicitly labelled as such by the relevant broadcaster prior to their airing.
(b) Political adverts must not exceed ten minutes, unless a Special Exemption Order (see [(3)]) is granted by the Broadcasting and Advertising Conduct Authority.
(c) The relevant broadcaster must provide any political party mentioned in another party’s advertising with a right of reply.
(3) The Broadcasting and Advertising Conduct Authority can issue a Special Exemption Order for political advertising in the event of the following:
(a) The advert in question is being broadcast in a unique political timeframe or during a significant national crisis.
(b) The advert is being broadcast simultaneously as a public service announcement film, and includes provably true information which can be verified through professional fact checking services.
(c) The advert does not run over the allocated time slot considerably, and exceeds it to a short, but necessary degree.

5. ITV Franchise Bidding
(1) Section 216 of the Communications Act 2003 will be amended from:

(4) Where the Broadcasting and Advertising Conduct Authority. receive an application under this section for the renewal of a licence, they must—
(a) decide whether they will be renewing the licence;
(b) if they decide that they will be, determine in accordance with section 217 the financial terms on which the licence will be renewed; and
(c) notify the applicant of their decision and determination.

To:

(4) Where the Broadcasting and Advertising Conduct Authority. receive an application under this section for the renewal of a licence, they must—
(a) decide whether they will be renewing the licence based upon the following criteria;
(i) the license holder does not own more than one other license for a Channel 3 franchise at the time of application;
(ii) the license holder has maintained consistent viewing figures in the five years before renewal; and
(iii) the license holder has provided a suitable level of local engagement.
(b) if they decide that they will be, determine in accordance with section 217 the financial terms on which the licence will be renewed; and
(c) notify the applicant of their decision and determination.

6. Interpretations
(1) The Broadcasting and Advertising Conduct Authority is the government-approved regulatory authority for the broadcasting industry of the United Kingdom.
(2) “The watershed” refers to the broadcasting period in which broadcasters can tailor their schedule to adult or mature audiences, classified by the Broadcasting and Advertising Conduct Authority. as being between the hours of 9pm (21:00) and 5:30am (05:30).
(3) The “television license fee” refers to a payment that UK households are required to make in order to receive television broadcasts, live or recorded, made payable to the British Broadcasting Corporation.
(4) “Political advertising” refers to the use of broadcast advertising to influence a political debate or a proportion of the electorate.
(5) “ITV franchising” refers to the pre-2005 process by which independent television companies ran regional television stations, all operating under the framework of the central ITV network.

7. Short title, commencement and extent
(1) This act may be cited as the Broadcasting Act 2019.
(2) This act comes into force on 1st April 2020.
(3) This act extends to the United Kingdom.

Notes
This bill refers to a number of historic pieces of legislation in its application. I will present these bills below and explain exactly what the amendments and repeals of these bills achieves.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/pdfs/ukpga_20030021_en.pdf

The Communications Act 2003 is where the majority of changes come from. This Act initially established the Office of Communications and its subsequent remit, and it is that aspect of the Act that our first amendments come from.

I’m a firm believer in the principle of liberty, and freedom of speech comes within that. I of course understand wishing to shield children from pornography or violence on television, but the vast majority of older children will have come into contact with the use of expletives in daily life, and as such, trying to pretend “swearing” causes the vast majority of these children “harm” or “offence” is a frankly useless appeal to morality.

However, I also accept that younger children wouldn’t be used to swearing. Parents on the whole skate away from using expletives in the presence of those in infancy, and those children hearing “foul language” for the first time would see it as considerably more taboo. I therefore propose in this legislation to roll back the watershed by two hours, introducing a “preparatory” period from 7pm to 9pm where more mature language content can be blended into television content. This then allows television companies to have more freedom during scheduling.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2...0040692_en.pdf

The second piece of legislation that is altered is the Communications (Television Licensing) Regulations 2004. These regulations prescribe fees payable for TV licensing, alongside Part 4 of the Communications Act 2003, which sets out TV licensing conditions.

This aspect of the bill concerns repeals, as the intent is to abolish the television license, which is a regressive tax and ultimately ends up being wasted on BBC vanity projects. The funding for television licensing in this country will instead come from general taxation, but will also be dependent on the BBC keeping to a tight budget - if it overspends, less money will come out of the taxpayer’s pocket as funding will be reduced.

This bill also repeals the political advertising ban on television and radio, as one thing the Communications Act did through this was “dumb down” political content. Having healthy political debate on British broadcasts should not be viewed as controversial, and political content which pushes the boat out should not be discouraged. It also sets prerequisite conditions for political advertising, as well as coordinating an exemption mechanism for these conditions.

Lastly, this bill amends sections in the Communications Act 2003 which allowed for the merger of all ITV franchises into ITV plc. Free market competition far outweighs the need for monopolisation, which has led to ITV’s localist remit falling by the wayside. Bringing back the days of franchise renewal will keep the heat on ITV to produce top quality broadcast content, as the ITV plc merger has led the channel to stagnate.

To conclude, I feel this bill makes necessary alterations to give Britain a broadcasting framework to be truly proud of. I welcome all debate on this legislation.
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Connor27
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Can we get a tldr list of changes for second reading SankaraInBloom?
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Jammy Duel
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*Looks for changes for the second reading*
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SoggyCabbages
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Still didn't change the first person in the notes I see.
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username3973192
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Saracen's Fez

Nice idea adding that intro!
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Rakas21
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Nay.

My view essentially section by section is..

1) Watershed - With the advent of pin-code protection or even other measures (retinal, fingerprint, timed) i personally believe that the watershed should be abolished completely with at least one layer of protection (pin in most cases) being mandated. Pass or fail, i shall likely bring such a bill i think.

Nevertheless your idea is a marginal improvement and so could see me abstain.

2) TV License - Although it is good to see that many parties share my desire to see the TV License abolished as per the budget this goes in completely the wrong direction, simply transferring the burden from person to another.

This section i cannot support.

3) Advertising - This i have no objection to.

Full support.

4) ITV - More explanation in the notes is required for division however the intent of this bill is clearly to remove a monopoly and that has my support.

I would support this.

..

Broke down my response as this bill contains a multitude of things.
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SankaraInBloom
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(Original post by Connor27)
Can we get a tldr list of changes for second reading SankaraInBloom?
Certainly.

I've rectified the stylistic issues with the bill regarding definitions and interpretations.

I've also amended the references to Ofcom, seeing as that organisation has ceased to exist.

I have amended the section for political advertising, setting out the legal obligations broadcasters will have to comply with in order to show political adverts, and introducing an exemption mechanism for these legal obligations.
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SankaraInBloom
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(Original post by Rakas21)
Nay.

My view essentially section by section is..

1) Watershed - With the advent of pin-code protection or even other measures (retinal, fingerprint, timed) i personally believe that the watershed should be abolished completely with at least one layer of protection (pin in most cases) being mandated. Pass or fail, i shall likely bring such a bill i think.

Nevertheless your idea is a marginal improvement and so could see me abstain.

I agree that the watershed is essentially obsolete in a modern capacity - admittedly I hadn't considered that other protection measures could achieve its removal, and I may legislate for this at a later reading.

2) TV License - Although it is good to see that many parties share my desire to see the TV License abolished as per the budget this goes in completely the wrong direction, simply transferring the burden from person to another.

This section i cannot support.

I did consider allowing for advertising on the BBC as a replacement for license fee funding, but I think the fact that the BBC is independent from commercial influence is unique in a hyper-commercial age of broadcasting, and have some reservations about altering it suddenly as opposed to gradually.

3) Advertising - This i have no objection to.

Full support.

4) ITV - More explanation in the notes is required for division however the intent of this bill is clearly to remove a monopoly and that has my support.

Essentially, this basically stops a ITV license holder from holding more than two licenses, preventing predator companies from monopolising in the sense that ITV plc has. It also ensures that the license holder's quality of programming is considered when renewing licenses, rather than just giving it to the highest bidder, making the franchise process more measured.

I would support this.

Broke down my response as this bill contains a multitude of things.
Included a few things in response to your general feedback.
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ns_2
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I can get behind the reform to the watershed, and the abolition of the TV license (although transferring the cost to the taxpayer is concerning for myself).

In terms of political advertising, I can see merit in the changes; however, I would personally seek to add a clause that "time for political broadcasts must be offered equally to all involved parties" or that "parties must, if requested, be offered similar time slots" - to prevent the Tories getting immediately before Eastenders on a Friday night, whilst Labour have to suffer at 11 in the morning in the middle of Homes Under the Hammer.
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barnetlad
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The watershed is not just about language- there is probably not one swear word in 'Naked Attraction' but it should not be shown at tea-time, to give an example (preferably not shown at all, but that is another question).
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SankaraInBloom
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(Original post by barnetlad)
The watershed is not just about language- there is probably not one swear word in 'Naked Attraction' but it should not be shown at tea-time, to give an example (preferably not shown at all, but that is another question).
That programme is scheduled well after the beginning of the watershed, and it'll likely still be scheduled later because primetime TV. Relaxing watershed rules is a necessary step if we are to truly liberalise British broadcasting.
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Saracen's Fez
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This bill is in cessation.
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Saracen's Fez
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This bill has been withdrawn.
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