MPs meet Murdoch on junket to Tinseltown

MPs investigating the future of the BBC have enjoyed a week-long junket at public expense to Los Angeles, where they met Rupert Murdoch.

MPs investigating the future of the BBC have enjoyed a week-long junket at public expense to Los Angeles, where they met Rupert Murdoch.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee's five-night trip to Tinseltown last month at a cost of several thousand pounds for the nine MPs was a fact-finding mission for its inquiry into the renewal of the BBC's charter. A similar trip last year to research the British film industry cost about £30,000.

The latest visit raises the question of whether California is the best place for MPs to research the future of the BBC, when the US has a dismal track record in public service broadcasting. Members of the committee argue that American firms are at the forefront of broadcasting technology and are therefore crucial to their inquiry into the BBC's charter.

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat culture and media spokesman, said he hoped the committee could justify the expense to the taxpayer. "If the US offers cutting-edge technology, as is claimed, it also offers a public service broadcasting landscape to avoid," Mr Foster said.

"The public value of getting the BBC's Charter Review right is huge. But while the committee may have tourism under its remit, let's hope that the public cost of this trip can be justified entirely in terms of broadcasting," he added.

Members of the committee raised concerns beforehand about whether the trip was justified. Chris Bryant, the Labour MP for the Rhondda, originally opposed the visit but changed his mind.

He said: "We wanted our report on the future of the BBC to be well-informed and ahead of the game. The US leads the way technologically and our visit to more than a dozen companies opened our eyes to the changing nature of broadcasting. It was well worthwhile."

The committee, chaired by the veteran Labour backbencher Sir Gerald Kaufman, visited more than a dozen media organisations during the visit, but the highlight was a meeting with Mr Murdoch. The meeting with the News Corp chief was private and informal, and did not form part of the committee's official inquiry into the renewal of the BBC's charter.

Mr Murdoch makes regular trips to Britain, where his media interests include BSkyB and News International, publisher of The Sun and The Times, but because he is a US citizen, the select committee has no power to summon him to appear before them.

It is not the first time the committee has travelled to Los Angeles. In June 2003, the MPs visited the city as part of an inquiry into the British film industry. They flew British Airways business class and stayed at the Chateau Marmont hotel, a replica of an 18th- century French castle, on Sunset Boulevard.

A British Airways business class return ticket costs about £2,450, while standard rate rooms at the Chateau Marmont are priced at £220 a night. The committee remained within its stated budget and is believed to have received discounted rates, but the total cost is still likely to have been about £30,000.

A spokeswoman for the committee confirmed that the MPs visited Los Angeles last month but refused to comment on where they stayed or how much the trip cost. In its submission to the Government's review of its charter, entitled Building Public Value, the BBC outlined the problem with public service broadcasting in the US.

"PBS, the sole American public service television broadcaster, is a marginal broadcaster showing minority programmes in which commercial television has no interest," the BBC said.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week