I’ll target fake news, champion fairer representation in sport and examine the future of the BBC
With experience as a journalist, a keen interest in sport and three years on the DCMS Committee under my belt I’m ready to take the lead, writes Julian Knight MP
The last few years have put a spotlight on the vital work of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select (DCMS) Committee. From equal pay to fake news, our investigations have made headlines and set the political agenda.
As a member of the committee for the past three years, I have seen first-hand the huge power that institutions such as Facebook and the BBC wield in our society, and how important it is that MPs are able to hold them accountable for their impact on society.
I am standing for chair because I want to provide the experienced, effective leadership we need to steer our investigations in the next Parliament.
My background equips me well for the role. Before entering the Commons I spent almost two decades as a journalist across print and broadcast media, including the BBC. This gives me on-the-ground insights which will shape my approach to the committee’s work on this subject, and which I have already put to use campaigning to relocate Channel 4.
I am also a sports enthusiast. I’m a keen cyclist and author of the For Dummies guide to cricket, as well as playing opening bat for the Lords and Commons team.
As an MP I have worked hard to champion women’s sport, especially getting women’s T20 cricket on to the roster for the Commonwealth Games, and supporting the launch of the first-ever women’s Parliamentary cricket team.
But enough about me – what would I focus the committee’s efforts on over the next few years?
First, disinformation and fake news. We must ensure that the public is able to trust in the integrity of our democratic system. That means ensuring not only that electoral law keeps pace with rapid technological change, but also monitoring the wider news and information ecosystem in an age when voters are increasingly getting information filtered through social media algorithms rather than traditional outlets.
Second, representation in sport. I am delighted that we have made real progress over the past few years, but I will redouble our efforts to help make British sport more representative. Everyone, no matter their gender, deserves the chance to compete for our country and see themselves represented in our national teams.
Third, the BBC. This is one of our most important national institutions. It produces a huge share of the news people read and watch every day and is funded by taxpayers. For all these reasons, MPs have a responsibility to hold the corporation to account – while making sure that the Government’s reform proposals protect everything that is best about our national broadcaster.
Finally, and on a related note, I want to make our work less focused on Westminster. A key theme of this Parliament will be redistributing power and opportunity around the nations and regions of the UK – digital, culture, media and sport all have important roles to play.
We shall investigate whether Government investment in sports and the arts is spread equitably, how national broadcasters can spread their operations and investments, and what they can do to support local newspapers and journalists.
Julian Knight is Conservative MP for Solihull