Downing Street proposes televised lobby briefings

LONDON - Downing Street is understood to be preparing to televise its daily lobby briefings as part of a range of changes planned for government communications.

The televising of the briefings, given by Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman to journalists, is reportedly a key recommendation in the Phillis Review into Government Communications and one that is being backed by senior figures in Downing Street.

The review, chaired by Guardian Media Group chief executive Bob Phillis, is due to publish its report early this year. The Cabinet Office has disputed speculation that this will be in days.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said the department is making no comment on the issue until the Phillis report is published, but did not deny that televised lobby briefings were a favoured option.

The Phillis review team, published its interim report last year which said there was a "three-way breakdown in trust between government and politicians, the media and general public".

The interim report recommended that a permanent secretary responsible for communications be appointed. This was accepted by government and a search to fill the role was launched last month.

Another recommendation that emerged from the interim report and was accepted by government was to reduce the powers of the Prime Minster's communications director, a role filled by David Hill, who replaced Alastair Campbell last year.

Hill was also an original member of the Phillis review.

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