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Read this: What the Culture Minister Really Thinks

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What the Culture Minister Really Thinks…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 this week, I'm talking with Secretary of State for digital culture media and sport.

She is the 11th conservative in the roles that the party took power and she has a huge remit from the Tech companies to museums and art galleries to broadcasters is privatisation to hold it just last week and even your revision, but before we get into all of that I wanted to get a sense of a news habits.

How does she keep up-to-date through the working day and they mention here right at the to check in play but first thing in the morning.

That's a daily newsletter produced by the political magazine politico in case you decide you want a minute the ministers meet you have it and it's come out and I love foreplay, but I will watch a bit of Sky News or BBC One I'm getting ready in the morning and obviously then try and stay alert throughout the day and see what else is.

And I'll read the papers at some point either probably in the evening as well and what about streaming services.

Do you have a lot of subscriptions UK Netflix Disney plus? What person Netflix and Amazon Prime in my household, so what's a bit of both that really good for unwinding a sign that I prefer the things that don't take too much brain power when you've been through a lot of legislation policies is nice to just relax sometimes.

When will you know you've been secretary of state that the dcms before month now and you've recently announced too big you turn a big policy.

You turn my have decided not to privatise Channel 4 this issue before that there are long-term sustainability issues and threats to Channel 4 Media landscape with we know that linear advertising is taking a hit organisations having to evolve and adapt.

Channel 4 have a very rigid the public broadcaster restrictions for one don't allow them to create their own content which means that the 82 to flourish is is kept from the off and that sustainability fuelled the decision on the predecessor and it's filled my decision.

It's just a different way of going about it.

So I think I've been looked at the business case having listen.

Very carefully to people within in the set included independent sector that selling them at this moment in time is not the right decision the right decision is a comprehensive package and ambitious package which is the will be laid before the house which includes opening up some sustainability issues allowing Channel 4 tab more commercial freedom so the opportunity to survive and a fantastic Media out that one that I think we can be proud of what we want to retain you mention your predecessor Nadine dorries.

She obviously doesn't see it that.

Yeah, she's very upset about this.

I wonder what these spoke to her in advance and told her you changed your mind I did indeed and I spoke to a number of colleagues including a number of the other processes and outline does that leave as I just done to you now.

Why we came to that conclusion and having reviewed the business case having look at the other options to achieve the same result around sustainability and particularly independent sector that is home to so many and what we done with this package is to continue to support those jobs in those livelihoods by Ms why do you think so in favour of it wasn't there any people in the industry? Who said your business case does not start up.

This is actually revenge.

This wasn't something new that Nadine dorries created.

This is something that many many secretaries of state of looked at it was before her time in fact that the consultation on this on this issue was kicked off this time.

Yes, but but if we're talking specifically about look at this camp Bradley for instance looked it's UK to the same conclusion as I did so did you know where and when your party we talked about revenge payback time? I just wondered the many people think some people think that it was actually the moment when Channel 4 News replace Boris Johnson who wouldn't want to appear on their show with an ice sculpture that was the moment that for Channel 4 agenda in the first place was around sustainability and looking after the taxpayers interest and that's certainly been at the heart of the work that I

Making sure that the taxpayers asset Channel 4 is protected is given an opportunity to flourish that the jobs in in people's Communities and independent sector and operating continue to expand and support our creative sector.

That's why I was part of this package.

I'm delighted that we've managed to get done for to agree to double their investment in skills to 10 million people and that they are will be doubling the number of jobs outside of London again great news for all regions and great news for people who didn't want the the many people who didn't want Channel 4 privatised and will still believe nevermind what you say, they will still believe it was a major logical decision that you've ever heard back from they were having looked at what I've done that are based on evidence.

I hope that speaks for the type of politician that I am and I will be when it comes to other issues as well and how did Nadine dorries respond when he spoke to her.

She said you're squandering effectively squandering the opportunity to change the media landscape very well this agenda and she comes out this from a different point of view but we both share that concern around sustainability at the BBC is funded by the licence fee is the licence fee on a tax.

Do you think he is the questions around the sustainability of the licence fee in the long-term? I think the BBC is an amazing National in we saw it really coming to light again with with the passing of majesty in the coverage of not.

Just a funeral but it all those days of the queue in the red button server allow people to join that sense of national mourning wouldn't have got that from another another outlet and that really showed the BBC at its best in many ways, did it make you shift your opinion on the licence?

At all I believe very strongly that at the BBC is international.

I think we do need to protect we need to make sure that it's sustainable in the long-term that is questionable under the current licence exclusively and I say that because the numbers are in decline.

Yes, it was a bit of a tablet, but they are in decline.

There was pressure in that regard and so do you need to make sure questions around and choice given the changes that we seen in the media landscape and the other options are available at things that are evolving and that's why any decisions in this base need to be completely evidence-based they need to have the vax.

Not just somebody ideologically saying we should do this.

We should do that and then it doesn't actually stop primer funding perspective the shelf life and I think that the licence on its own will be problematic if we are to make sure that the BBC continues to.

Be the fantastic provider and public sector broadcasting so I think yes we do need to look at this agenda.

Obviously we aren't renewing the charter for a few years.

They want to have that information all that that's the evidence.

I'll fingertips to make an informed decision and work with the BBC to address this issue, and that's why we will be conducting a licence the review will be evidence-based and will give us that information and will also include a look at fairness and choice within that ok.

I mean he's in your party say the BBC is biased.

What's your sense? I wondered You Feel The Corporation is inherently left-wing themselves and down on this agenda now and I know he spoken to the senior team, but it's something that particularly passionate about themselves as well ensure impartiality has made it one of his yeah.

I would also say there is a difference between having a plan and delivering that change and it is certainly not job done by any stretch of the imagination are we only have to look at samples of come up to to highlight the fact that there is still a problem if we look at the incident on the bus with the alleged anti-semitism if we look at the incidences of Sutton Common is autism look at the comments that Gary Lineker and others have made that is indicative of a culture that still has an issue around impartiality and that's why it's something that I will be particularly looking at a Focus with the BBC on the agenda, but we've been conducting the mid-term review which will have a particular focus around impartiality important to the long-term viability of the because if you think about it in today's age.

We've got so much fake news out there that people deserve but also expect a need to be able to to know that.

Are really trusted sources of information and everybody's interest that we get this this right and that we addressed the issue had on so we're looking at this is part of the mid-term review I mean I would like to talk to you about the story that dominated the headlines for the past few weeks Prince Harry I'm in his in his Netflix documentary describe the hounding of him in his wife Megan what he believes is a racist and misogynistic Booker's followed.

Will you be going a copy of a copy of his book? I think I won't really have any time to read this book and everything else.

It's not on life for priority list so we say but I know it is for many other people with the serial killer paraded naked to the streets and all of that became the most complained about column in the history of the Earth's regulator what was your reaction to that I believe in freedom of speech very very strong hey obviously.

Have to be mindful of what we say and the ramifications of that but I am a believer freedom of speech you think you should have been able to write.

I think that he had the right to say what he wanted to say the obviously it was going to get the reaction that it got and it was going to concert in a number of people.

I wouldn't have said what he said you know and I don't align myself with myself with the comments that he made Princes point it proves his point processes such as racist we do have to have to have to have people to be able to position where people can air opinions that we don't all agree with that is the nature of Media sector and press and it's important.

It's important for exposing things that support for challenging democracy holding politicians to account to Ibiza papers everyday.

I see many stories that I don't agree with all the perspective that I don't agree with.

And that's quite right and I would always champion journalist freedom and and their ability and right to be able to write that content that doesn't mean I agree with all of that that's the nature of free speech that straight into illegal content or I'll go in certain directions, but yeah, it's I'd defend his right to say what he wants and Prince Harry father and his wife.

Do you think that there needs to be more press regulation Cliff what you're saying.

I don't know you do what was since the tragic events Diana and also other instances.

We have regulated the press more than was the case that then but of course to get here isn't that because of the importance role that the press playing democratic system and providing people with voice in challenging the status Quo and exposing things all of that could happen.

If you've stifle the media to the point that.

Limiting what people are saying so it's all about regulator do we have self-regulation of the prayers we also know it since past Levinson etc.

So there are many different things that we've done since some of that you're referring to when it comes to regulating.

Let's talk about government online safety bill.

You know you've been talking about protect people particularly children online for three years.

We've gone before it's still not law.

Why is it so hard the first country in the world to do? This is no simple act at all really when you think about the fact.

We are regulating social media for the first time that a lot of company countries are looking at what we're doing.

So they can then implement that that blueprint themselves.

I've got it back on the agenda.

We are passing it through Parliament comes back next week in fact and then it will go to the House of Lords it will become a law this parliamentary session in the prime minister has committed to that himself as well, so we are on the track to deliver this.

Stronger Russells father or is your predecessor they both say you've ordered it down.

Have you well I've spoken to and worked with Molly Russell's father and another components have done an incredible job really pushing this agenda forward what we have done is strengthen it in relation to children with added more protections in but that was something like I felt very strongly about when I came into the role fundamentally if we get it has to be protecting children there at the heart of this piece of legislation.

That's why we've made it stronger and then when it comes to adults with rebalanced in terms of freedom of speech and with introduce this triple the protection So Festival if it's illegal content it has to go secondly if it's a breach of the platforms own terms and conditions that we know that they they all have the things that you would expect them to have.

Racism all of those things then it has to go so they're having to live up to what the promising people which they are not doing at the moment and then there's a third safety net so if this stuff that's it.

You're still uncomfortable with and it doesn't Paslode first U Barretts you will then be empowered to be able to filter out some of that content and have a lovely user empowerment tools at your fingertips out that in the original builds why I do believe this is a stronger bill.

This is a builder also at the same time protect freedom of speech will I think it's really important.

How often do you meet with a tech companies as well as regularly as I possibly can I met with them a number of times before we got this bill back into into the common.

So very regular supporters of different days.

I meet with particularly that parents to hear everybody.

I'm an evidence-based politician when I came into the role.

I wanted to make the changes in the correct way that produce a stronger bed.

Piece of legislation I just wondered whether you worry that these companies are too powerful.

You know if you take a step van, is it all that these foreign companies have such an influence in Britain and across the world if you look at the ramifications of breaching this piece of legislation there massive we're talking of humongous finds that would cripple an organisation especially if they were repeatedly find these volumes will change behaviour and it will mean that we're in the driving seat for too long.

They've been not protecting children.

Not living up to their roles and responsibilities.

They've been allowing content is deeply damaging especially for Minors to say and as a government we're putting a stop to that and you are culture secretary and a huge talking point right now is around restitution and particularly about the sculptures and unloading of the Elgin Marbles what is your view on whether they should return to Greece very clear on on this but I don't think they should return to completely understand.


Believe that it should be returned and I can sympathise with you on it, but I think they opens a complete can of worms it would be a slippery slope.

You would end up with so many amazing artefacts then under question of whether they should go back to another country and it's very dubious over the ownership at certain stages of things and let's not forget about country that we have with careful that we looked after that we have allowed the world to see in the British Museum not just British people but the world have access to I think sending them back.

Is it is a dangerous road to go down but also one that is prohibited in law when all about to change the law to facilitate that is important that we stand up and protect and enable fly around to see that even the things that would be looted.

I'm not saying they weren't even objects the Benin bronzes or other.

Why do it is important that we don't confuse this with with other instances these pointed out and we all ready for him.

It's their the the sending them back to degrees is in the right place has George Osborne former Chancellor now terminal British Museum has he approached you about this thing is you on this has been misinterpreted and and certainly Parade wrongly and he has no desire to do that.

There's also been this concept of a 100-year loan.

Neutered as well.

Which is certainly not what he's done either.

So I think it's important that you can obviously speak to him.

He can speak without me having to do it for him, but he would agree with me that we shouldn't be sending them back and actually they they do belong here in the UK where we cared for them.

Great deal of time where we've allowed access to them and along with other bits around around the nation and this would open the gateway to the question of our entire contents to go down and think it's important that we stand up and protect them and I'd also like to ask you about Eurovision supposed to be held this year in Ukraine after they won the competition and it's gonna be Liverpool in May the city's local government will be playing around 4 million pounds is rumoured to be costing the BBC just under 10 million are there any plans for meant to be contributing in the Ukraine obviously would have loved the opportunity to host they can't do it and I want to make sure it is a true celebration of their culture their music their identity and it is very much.

They're your revision that we are hosting.

It was supposed to be the other way round.

How much taxpayers money will go in to open central government that will be detailed and and will be very transparent with the sums but it isn't generate more money in the long run anyway, if you look at the amount of hotel rooms that will be filled the Investment in the local economy the Legacy and Pat it's a bit like a Commonwealth Games and and and other national celebrations and sporting events that we we have to stay at it will generate income as well as that expenditure you made history as the cabinet Minister in British history of education people have talked about this revolving door when it comes to the role of Secretary of State for culture media and sport that people don't stay in the job very long just at the end.

I wanted to ask you plan to stay in this for a while.

I certainly do yes, I was in the cabinet for almost a year before before I put that role in education as well and then.

Intend to be here for a while.

We've got a great deal of work to get through some of which we spoke about today, but there is much much more in my injury and more that I want in my outbox.

Why didn't you did that there is has been installed or is it not seen as an important role as a vital role when you think about it.

We are the department that are the department future jobs with the beating the economy.

We are the department affect people's lives every day day in day out.

So it is it is important absolutely when you from your broadband to what you watching on TV Eurovision as we just discuss two issues like online safety for children in particular gambling all of these issues.

You there really important to people because it is important.

I would argue the most important role in government because of that directly with people's lives not just now and again, but every single day.

Who is Michelle donelan Secretary of State for digital culture media and sport as you made reference to how the BBC have reported anti-semitic attack on a group of Jewish students in 2021.

Let me just add to that what the sea of said about the reporting of the incident which was in part based on a video of the incident film from inside the bus BBC Ofcom has found that are reporting was not in breach of the broadcasting code the BBC's executive unit ruled in January 2022 that more could have been done sooner to acknowledge the different views about what could be heard on the recording of the attack to BBC apologise that the time for not acting sooner to highlight that the contents of coding work and tested and the minister the Secretary of State also reference Jeremy Clarkson's column about Meghan Markle Clarkson later said he was horrified to have caused so much hurt and taking off The Sun website and they said they regretted publishing it and work sincerely.

Sorry well with me listening to all that listening to that interview is Lara O'Reilly she's a senior correspondent on insiders.

Discovering tech and media and I wondered Laura first.

What's your reaction to that interview and she certainly has a very broad brief.

Yeah, it's a big and like you say it's been so many people in the role.

It's fantastic pub quiz questions and then the last five the highlights for me.

I think we're her comments around press freedom and I did think her reaction was a little bit blase considering just what you said, it was the most complained about article ever to it.

So the pressure regulator not just that 60 cross-party MPs complained about it and our son to take it down and it was taken down and I think yeah, it's very right to champion the right to say that I think what I would be interested in hearing more about was what is the kind of press that she was just considering the harm and offence that cause that that was very interested, but I'm sure people on Fleet Street would become a cheering at their desks at the direction.

We talk to that interview about the publication of Prince Harry's books.

Earlier this week and I want to focus now on a high-profile media figure to come in for criticism from Prince Harry who is Rebecca Brooks is the chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News UK and Harry doesn't hold listen to this when the audiobook loathsome told everyone who was in for agreement is she was an infected of humanity excuse for a journalist that is Prince Harry reading the audiobook of his autobiography spare.

He says record books made up a story about him going to rehab.

What do you think about what he said spicy? Isn't it? He's received over the years.

I guess it's interesting is Rebekah Brooks so she is the head of News UK which looks after the the sun and the times and various other titles in the UK Rebecca's worked for the news of the world and the sign in the past as

And he's been a shadow in his life throughout his in grown up.

It's been a Spectre that's why him around everywhere and he has to give back sometimes what he's been given in what sense what do you mean about? So he argues in his book that he the Prince Charles and Camilla included with with the sun to put bad stories about him in the Press And not bad but also incorrect stories and he feels he wasn't really giving her a kind of Rights with caused it approached the sun and usual care about all this and they chose not to comment but one American website with earlier this week the Rebekah Brooks will be taking the on the top job in the Murdoch Media Empire in charge of Music and fox call companies once the deal to measure is complete and we should say that the reports have definitely not been substantiated, but would that be a surprise an appointment in likely to you? I'm not so sure.

There's a couple of things one nobody else has followed up that reported and confirmed it to you know the line of succession with dictate that it would probably be a Murdoch that would be nice to companies that said it would be a very interesting appointment Rebecca stay very loyal to Rupert Murdoch throughout the years and he's rewarded her handsomely so get the top job so much of a surprise.

He certainly looked after her through the phone hacking scandal in the sun face fresh accusations in October last year that phone hacking took place at the newspaper something they always denied and including when Rebecca Brooks was editor what's your sense of that that would be significant because what news UK has said in the past was the phone hacking was just simply to News of the World and it didn't happen at the sun and a lesbian allegations against the sun they've been settled out of court essentially a new snooker hasn't accept any liability for that so.

Were this to spread this toxicity and especially just giving the high-profile role that Rebekah Brooks has now this just opened the envelope.

It opens the can of worms once again and it doesn't go away as a 10 years old now.

Have you got any details any sense of how it might play out in terms of when we might hear more? I don't know that.

I'm in these things can sometimes take it while there's also a bunch of things happening with some old News of the World cases to these fresh allegations came out in October perhaps.

I might see something this year well.

We will keep watching and a reminder the Prince Harry also has a how to get another group of newspapers associated, so we'll watch it all with interest but I'm afraid that is all I got time for thank you so much, too.

My guess Michelle donelan Secretary of State for digital culture media and sport and to O'Reilly here in the studio from Insider and thank you all so much for listening to the media.

Show will be back next week, but until then.

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