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MPs call on BBC to reject proposal to merge news under commercially-operated BBC World News

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By Jessica Goodfellow, Media Reporter

June 7, 2016 | 3 min read

MPs are petitioning on the BBC’s proposal to merge its news operations, BBC News and BBC World News, into one 24-hour channel as part of the organisation's cost-cutting measures intended to stop it acting as a competitor.

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The motion was tabled by Labour MP Helen Goodman yesterday (6 June), and has called on the corporation’s management to avoid the merging of its news operations, which Goodman said would “blur the lines between the licence fee and the pursuit of profit”.

It adds that the closure or alteration of the BBC News channel into a commercially-operated BBC World News TV Channel that is funded through advertising does not offer "anything like an adequate replacement for the UK news service".

The motion went on to urge for any future plan for BBC News to “avoid undermining the integrity and impartiality of public service broadcasting” through the introduction of commercial funding arrangements.

As it currently stands, BBC News is available to licence fee payers, while the BBC World News channel is commercially funded and available to viewers outside the UK.

The motion also stated that while online and mobile content has grown exponentially, television remains “by far the UK's main source of news”, and wants to protect the BBC’s command of news in the UK rather than let Sky act as a “domestic monopoly” on continuous UK television news.

“BBC News is an extremely important public resource,” said Goodman. “Any attempts to water down its role should be firmly resisted. The public value and pay for the news through the licence fee – the BBC should not be forced to cut coverage as a result of political pressure and the desire of some politicians to hamstring the BBC.”

Goodman is also chair of the all-party parliamentary group for the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), the trade union for journalists in the UK. The motion has been sponsored by Labour MP for Chester, Chris Matheson, who is a member of the culture, media and sport select committee.

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