Wednesday, 13 July 2011
NUJ urges re-think on 'dodgy' BBC licence deal
The NUJ has called for the BBC licence fee deal to be re-examined in the light of revelations surrounding the "disturbing influence" of Rupert Murdoch and his News International executives on David Cameron and senior government ministers.
The call comes as NUJ members at the BBC prepare for a 24-hour strike on Friday against compulsory redundancies.
General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “As the News International scandal deepens it is becoming increasingly clear that David Cameron and others at the heart of government have been in thrall to Rupert Murdoch, shamelessly prioritising the commercial interests of one powerful man over those of the British public.
“The shabby deal on the BBC licence fee settlement was done behind closed doors last Autumn, with no democratic scrutiny or transparent discussion. It marked a watershed in the Corporation’s 89-year history.
“Can David Cameron and George Osborne honestly say that there was no Murdoch influence behind the decision to freeze the licence fee for the next six years? That decision has led to the axing of vital language services at the BBC World Service and the imposition of 20 per cent spending cuts across the BBC.
"Quality public service journalism and the BBC audience are suffering the consequences of this deal, clearly taken at a time when huge pressure was being exerted by News International executives."
She noted that last night Channel 4 News reported claims that friends of Gordon Brown believe the Murdoch empire turned its fire on him because he refused to adopt their demands, cutting back BBC TV and online services and the broadcasting regulator Ofcom, while David Cameron, in the run up to the election, was readier to say what Murdoch wanted to hear.
“It is vital that the dodgy licence fee deal should now be re-examined as a matter of urgency in light of recent developments," she said.