News media to be consulted prior to bids
The UK government believes free reporting of major sporting and cultural events is vital and bidding processes should take account of the needs of the news industry, it has stated in a formal response to a parliamentary inquiry.
In a 15-page response to the inquiry report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, the governments states that it ‘agrees that effective media coverage of major events is critical to their success, ensuring as broad an audience as possible. Furthermore, we consider the free reporting of events of national significance to be a key priority.’
It adds that its current strategic policy as set out in the Gold Framework for Major Sporting Events, now under review, will in future ‘ensure that it encourages early engagement with broadcasters and news media outlets when considering prospective bids, working within any parameters set by event owners and/or International Federations.’
The international News Media Coalition (NMC) of major news publishers and news agencies, which provided evidence to the inquiry, has welcomed many of the government’s responses to the recommendations of the inquiry report – but wants it to go further.
Its CEO Andrew Moger said: ‘Government should engage with the sports community to ensure that media freedom for independent reporting is a firm pre-requisite within invitations from sports federations to bid for events to be staged in a country, as well as taking a lead to ensure the evolving news media are fully able to fulfil their role when events begin.’
He added: ‘The UK government, and other states and administrations’ should seek to shape bidding processes from the very start to the finish line so that freedom to report is not lost amid the enthusiasm to land hosting rights.’ Read more.
The Committee, chaired by Julian Knight MP, made a number of recommendations following evidence from numerous stakeholders including BBC Sport, the NMC and the executive non-departmental public body UK Sport.
The report had stated: ‘The news media are vital stakeholders for major events, amplifying them at home and abroad and delivering greater value for money. Moreover, beyond this purely instrumentalist role, there is an intrinsic value to free and reliable reporting of major events. It is, therefore, concerning to hear of increased restrictions on reporting at major events and that the news media’s requirements are not always fully considered in event planning and delivery.’
It added: ‘DCMS and UK Sport should, in consultation with news media organisations, update the Gold Framework to set out requirements for publicly funded events to protect media freedoms and consider coverage requirements from bid stage and throughout the lifecycle of each event’.
The NMC’s submission called for:
- Government to assess whether sports bodies inviting bids have media freedom policies
- News media to be regarded as stakeholders and invited to participate in planning
- The value independent news coverage to be fully factored into bidding calculations
The government’s overall positive response last week also stressed:
- Establishment of a government Events Team to harness operational event expertise for future events and priorities
- The new Gold Framework to develop event bidding strategies in line with the government priorities
- Submission of a UK bid dossier for the UEFA ‘Euros’ 2028, to meet key deadlines in late 2022 and Spring 2023
- Extending the UK Listed Events Regime (ensuring that certain events of national interest are available to view live, and for free) to include digital rights. Read More on Government recognition of content change
- Independent evaluation of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games with reports in early 2023, setting out initial impacts, and third in late 2023, detailing legacy impacts and operational delivery
- Support for a new independent football regulator