Media Bill Announced

The new Media Bill is being introduced to parliament today:

I’m starting to work through the Draft Media Bill, and will note any significant observations here. My principal area of interest is radio, but the bill also covers television and news reporting, so any observations about these parts of the draft legislation will be welcome.

The draft bill’s aim is to:

“Reform the legal framework for the regulation of public service broadcasting, make changes to on-demand programme service (“ODPS”) regulation in the UK and make changes to the legal framework for the regulation of radio; including conferring new powers and duties on the Office of Communications (“OFCOM”) and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The draft Bill will also repeal an uncommenced provision of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 related to the regulation of news publishers.”

As with any legislative process, what may look innocuous on paper may have significant consequences for media plurality, diversity of supply, sustainability of alternatives, the needs and interests of citizens, and the intersection with other forms of media regulation and legislation, such as the Equality Act, market competition and crime and judicial matters.

My concern is that the reviews and consultations that have led to this bill having this specific form and set of concerns, have not been undertaken with a widespread involvement of the public and relevant interest groups, with much of the communication and lobbying being done in private and DSCM only selectively responding to responses that are relevant to only a few special interest groups.

It would be useful if you have contact with other media reform and advocacy groups if we can share any concerns, so we amplify one another. It’s particularly important that we establish parliamentary contacts, as we will need to raise concerns through representatives in different parties.

I’ll keep adding my notes as I go through the documents, and will respond to any comments as needed.

I will be dedicating my weekly Community Media Zoom discussion to a review of the Media Bill on Tuesday 18th April as an open-session.

All Better Media supporters will be welcome to join the session. I’ll share an invitation soon.

I’m going to invite academic colleagues who have experience with community radio, as well as community media contacts that I have regular contact with.

Any detailed observations will be noted in a ‘members only’ category here on the forum, and will not be made public during the discussion and exploratory period, though I will provide a summary.

The benefit of being a members of Better Media is that we get to develop a shared response many different media issues. @RG94 can point you in the direction of our subscription platform.

If anyone is able to join me for a discussion about the Media Bill, I’ve set up an online event from 6pm on Tuesday 18th April. Tickets are available via Eventbrite:

And I’ve shared a blog with some starter thoughts…

Here’s the summary I’ve written of last week’s discussion. Next stop, working out what we need to say to MPs to get this Bill changed…