Grahame Morris MP called for better Government support for journalists and the charitable sector, in this afternoon’s debate on Covid-19 and the cultural and entertainment sectors.
The Easington MP, who co-chairs the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Parliamentary Group, said, ‘freelance journalists have been particularly badly-impacted during the pandemic. At a time of national crisis, the value of the BBC has never been more important. I believe it’s been outstanding as an authoritative news source providing information as well as education programming to give parents home-schooling support.’
He went on to say that ‘the BBC is the heart of the UK’s creative economy, but isn’t widely appreciated is that the BBC generates £2 for the wider economy, for every £1 spent. This sustains thousands of independent production companies and suppliers up and down the country.’
Noting the Government’s failure to honour its manifesto promise to keep the free TV licence for over-75s, he argued that ‘not only has this resulted in a direct attack on the entitlements of elderly people, but the £500 million annual hit to the BBC budgets is resulting in programming cuts, with over 500 jobs lost from BBC News production.’
The NUJ has highlighted the damaging impact of axing investigative reporting, such as on the award-winning regional “Inside Out” programme.
The Easington MP asked that the Minister ensure that the next round of Charter Renewal negotiations are held in a more open and transparent fashion, and make sure that the BBC has the resources it needs to be able to invest in improving news and political coverage.
Mr Morris concluded by raising the plight of the charitable sector, which is still awaiting clarity on Government funding. He paid tribute to ‘the excellent East Durham Trust in my constituency,’ and said ‘I’m grateful for the support of the chair of the Select Committee, but I would like the Minister to respond in a timely way to allow the charitable sector to make plans accordingly.’