White House-style briefings planned for No 10

Broadcasting journalists are poised for a victory in their campaign to replace secretive “lobby” briefings with televised press conferences by ministers.

Tony Blair is set to press ahead with plans to introduce White House-style televised briefings following an inquiry into relations between journalists and Whitehall headed by Bob Phillis, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group.

The Prime Minister asked the group to examine whether the transparency of government communications would be enhanced if the daily government briefings for parliamentary journalists were televised.

The final report by the Phillis Inquiry will clear the way for morning briefings with the lobby and other journalists, now held at the Foreign Press Association in Carlton Terrace, to be televised.

Broadcasters have long campaigned to allow the cameras in for briefings, but print journalists have in the past succeeded in frustrating them.

Downing Street took a step towards ending the old unattributable lobby system following Blair’s 1997 victory, when he decided all briefings would be on the record.

The PM’s new director of communications, David Hill, who has replaced Alastair Campbell, has moved to improve relations with regional lobby journalists by persuading the Prime Minister to host a reception for them and their partners at Downing Street on Monday.

By David Rose

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