Bishop of Oxford asks Government about age ratings for content on streaming platforms

On 8th December the Bishop of Oxford asked a question of Government during exchanges in the House of Lords on age ratings for streaming platforms:
The Lord Bishop of Oxford [V] : My Lords, I thank the Minister for her answer. What will the Government do if other platforms do not follow the Netflix example? According to the BBFC, over 90% of parents said that age-related guidance was helpful, and there is no doubt that voluntary action may be more forthcoming if platforms are very clear that the UK Government expect content consumed here in the UK to be properly signposted with BBFC symbols and content advice. How else do the Government plan to ensure that only age-appropriate content is accessible to young and vulnerable viewers?

Continue reading “Bishop of Oxford asks Government about age ratings for content on streaming platforms”

Church Commissioners’ written answer: communications and COVID-19

On 22nd September 2020 Andrew Selous MP answered a written question from Jim Shannon MP on the Church of England’s communications strategy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party,  Strangford): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Church of England has made of the effectiveness of its communication strategy during the covid-19 outbreak. Continue reading “Church Commissioners’ written answer: communications and COVID-19”

Bishop of Worcester asks Government about attacks on press freedom abroad during pandemic

On 13th May, the Rt Revd John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, received a written answer from Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on the Government’s assessment of the restriction of journalism abroad.

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The Lord Bishop of Worcester: HL3569 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the extent to which countries have used COVID-19 as a pretext to introduce restrictive measures against independent media outlets and to arrest and intimidate journalists for providing critical coverage of the relevant government’s COVID-19 response.

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Bishop of Chelmsford calls for better regulation to protect online spaces

Chelmsford310119aOn 12th June 2019 the House of Lords debated a report from the Communications Committee, “That this House takes note of the Report from the Communications Committee Regulating in a digital world (2nd Report, HL Paper 299).” The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, who served on the Committee, spoke in the debate.

The Government have already committed themselves to making the United Kingdom the safest place in the world to be online. The ideas in this report explain that this does not necessarily require more regulation, but a different approach to regulation. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the big moral challenges of our day. We need to get it right, especially for our children, for there are no longer two worlds, the online and offline, but the one digital environment that we all inhabit and that needs a set of principles to govern not just its oversight but its future development.

Bishop of Gloucester urges greater requirements for online platforms to identify and remove harmful content

On 11th January 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion from Baroness Kidron “That this House takes note of the role played by social media and online platforms as news and content publishers.” The Bishop of Gloucester spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Kidron, for obtaining this debate. I, too, thank her for her tireless work in this area.

Social media and online platforms now play an enormous role in shaping national dialogue and accepted social standards. In my visits to primary schools and secondary schools in the diocese of Gloucester, I have spent time talking with children about social media, and I affirm all that is good. Yet, as children progress to secondary school, their view of themselves and the world is increasingly being shaped by social media and online platforms. Young people are receiving strong messages about worth being about looking a certain way and about success being measured in online likes. Furthermore, their fears about the world they are growing up in are being fuelled by what they read online. Continue reading “Bishop of Gloucester urges greater requirements for online platforms to identify and remove harmful content”

Bishop of Chelmsford – Channel 4 should stay public, must invest more in diversity, programmes for children

On 17th October 2017 the House of Lords debated a Report from the Lords Communications Committee, A privatised future for Channel 4? (1st Report, Session 2016–17, HL Paper 17). The Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, a member of the Committee, spoke in the debate. He focused on the need for proper diversity in public service broadcasting and for Channel 4 to invest more in programmes for children and young people. He also joined others in resisting calls for privatisation and questioned the logic of relocation from London:

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, I, too, am a member of the House of Lords Communications Committee. We normally meet on a Tuesday afternoon, so it is nice to have our meeting through the medium of this debate, in which members past and present can speak to each other. I thank other noble Lords for joining in as well. I also want to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Best, for the wise and winsome way he chaired the committee for three years and, in particular, for helping us to produce this report, which we dare to think has made a bit of a difference.

To put it simply, there is nothing quite like Channel 4. I realise that some people may think that bishops arrive fully formed, like ships in full sail, from a production line over the river at Lambeth, but all of us have other lives both past and present. In my early 20s ​I worked for several years in the film industry and saw at first hand the huge boost that was made to British film by Channel 4. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford – Channel 4 should stay public, must invest more in diversity, programmes for children”

Bishop of Chelmsford: in a ‘post-truth’ era, proper regulation can offer newspapers salvation

On 20th December 2016, Lord Best moved that the House “take note of the Report from the Communications Committee Press Regulation: where are we now? (3rd Report, Session 2014–15, HL Paper 135)”. The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, who is a member of the Communications Committee, spoke in the debate.

Chelmsford 251115The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Best, for bringing this debate to the House and for his wise and winsome chairing of the Select Committee on Communications. I speak as a member of that committee. I was not part of the committee that produced this report—that illustrates just how long it has taken for it get here—so I also thank my predecessors on the committee for all their work.

However, as the report makes clear and as has been well illustrated by the contributions so far, the situation is far from satisfactory and questions to government remain unanswered. As the noble Lord, Lord Best, has already explained, in the past few weeks the committee has again been burrowing into the detail of the issues and considering the present impasse. I shall not go over those details again; the noble Lord outlined them superbly, but I think that we could conclude that the carrot is not very tasty and the stick seems so severe that it is unlikely ever to be wielded. Continue reading “Bishop of Chelmsford: in a ‘post-truth’ era, proper regulation can offer newspapers salvation”

Bishop of Leeds asks about effect of media on understanding of judicial independence

LeedsOn 7th December 2016, Lord Beith asked the Government “what steps they are taking to promote public understanding of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.” The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, will the Minister define a little further what is meant by public education, as it seems that one of the most powerful shapers of world views is what people see in the headlines of newspapers and what they see in the media, not just what is taught to them rationally, for example in schools?

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BBC needs to promote religious literacy, Bishop of Norwich tells Peers

On 12th October 2016 the House of Lords debated a Government motion “that this House takes note of the drafts of the BBC’s new charter and the agreement between the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Corporation.” The Bishop of Norwich, Rt Revd Graham James, spoke in the debate about the need for well-resourced and informed coverage of religion. 

norwich121016bThe Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, I have been pondering what interest to declare in this debate. I have never been employed by the BBC, but have received very modest remuneration for occasional broadcasts; I listen to Radio 4 more than any other channel; I fall asleep when watching “Newsnight”, despite my best intentions; and I belong to a generation for whom, in our childhood and early life, television and radio were the BBC—in my native Cornwall in the late 1950s, there was no ITV. I say all this because I realise that the BBC is so much part of the fabric of my life that I can be an incurable romantic about it.

In some ways, the BBC is rather like the Church of England: it is both national and local, and everyone in the BBC, as in the Church of England, imagines that power is being exercised somewhere but they always believe that it is somewhere else and that they do not have any. Continue reading “BBC needs to promote religious literacy, Bishop of Norwich tells Peers”

Bishop of Leeds seeks Government assurances over future of Bradford’s National Media Museum

LeedsOn 25th April 2016 Lord Stevenson of Balmacara asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the closures of regional museums, particularly in the North of England, and the impact of those closures on the United Kingdom’s creative industry and on the educational services provided to local schools and colleges.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, if the rhetoric about the northern powerhouse is to have any reality behind it, it has to include access to culture and cultural developments. In the light of that, will the Minister give an assurance that the sword of Damocles hanging over the National Media Museum in Bradford might at last be lifted? Sometimes up there it feels as if London is saying, “Out, damned spot!”. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds seeks Government assurances over future of Bradford’s National Media Museum”