September 2023 Update

Be the Media, Know the Media, Change the Media.

September 2023 Update

Hello and welcome to the Better Media monthly update, which this time round has a focus on the recent developments with the Media Bill, plus updates on my other work as Campaign Co-ordinator. You can read the last update here.

In each update, I look at the progress we’ve made in each of the four main strands of Better Media’s work:

  • Amplifying and participating in campaigns around media policy
  • Acting as a link between trade unions and the media reform movement
  • Supporting and promoting community media outlets
  • Collating and platforming resources relating to media reform

Amplifying policy campaigns

Last week saw the Parliamentary Committee on the draft Media Bill release their full report, following up an interim report on radio issues released earlier in the summer. From our perspective, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, several of the Committee’s recommendations regarding the public service broadcasters line up with those made by our campaigning partners the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) and the Broadcast 2040+ campaign. Both of these organisations will still be working to ensure the Bill protects the interests of listeners and viewers well into the future – read VLV’s full statement here, and the response from Broadcast 2040+ here.

On the other hand, the recommendations regarding the regulation of local radio leave something to be desired. We welcome the Committee’s call for the government to provide Ofcom with clearer guidance on local radio’s obligations to provide ‘locally relevant’ news, but we are concerned that the Committee has not clearly addressed the proposed deregulation of commercial local radio. Better Media member Dr Rob Watson, who spearheaded our submission to the Committee regarding the Bill earlier this year, explains how that deregulation will likely lead to increased homogenisation and centralisation of ‘local’ content over on Decentered Media.

Linking with trade unions

This month we were very grateful to be invited to deliver a presentation to the Bristol Graphical, Paper, Media & Information Technology branch of Unite. As always, it is enlivening and informative to discuss the work of media reform with trade union colleagues. We look forward to continuing to work with the Bristol branch.

Meanwhile, we are continuing to liaise with contacts in different parts of the NUJ to try and rebuild our connection to that union. As I was preparing this blog, we received some exciting news in that vein, but it’s a touch too hot off the press to share today – keep an eye out for more on that in October’s update.

Supporting community media

Speaking of Bristol, pioneering local community media outlet The Bristol Cable launched a new membership drive this week. If successful, their campaign will raise over £30,000 to support powerful, community-led investigative journalism. And their impact reaches further than just Bristol – from helping other media co-ops get up and running to contributing to our Local Community Media Co-ops Guide project, the Cable do a lot of great work inspiring and facilitating other community media work.

I mentioned last month that I was hoping to have the first draft of the Local Community Media Co-ops Guide ready for review by the end of September. Unfortunately I have not been able to meet that goal, in part due to unforeseen commitments in other parts of my work life. I will have more details – and with luck a draft – to share on that next month.

Platforming media reform resources

To wrap up this month, I would encourage you to check out this blog post from the Public Interest News Foundation, published today, about the possibilities of participatory grantmaking in journalism. It includes a link to Dr Debs Grayson’s pioneering report on the topic, plus a recording of the recent Zoom launch of the guide. It’s another really interesting development in funding for independent journalism, hot on the heels of major new funding sources being made available in Wales and the USA.

That’s all for this month! I’ll be back in October with another update. As always you can contact me on – my working hours are Thursdays, 8.45-4.30.

Rowan Gavin
Better Media Campaign Co-ordinator

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