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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
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

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick