May 2024 Update

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

May 2024 Update

Hello and welcome to a slightly belated Better Media monthly update, for May 2024. I’m Rowan Gavin, Better Media Campaign Co-ordinator. You can read the last update here.

With a general election being dropped on all of us, it’s been a rather busy month! Some of our work has had to change tack as a result of this major shift in the political landscape, but other areas continue on as planned. In this update I’ll be covering three of the four main areas of our 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

Participating in policy campaigns

The snap general election has caused turmoil in many sectors, and media campaigning is no exception. In fact, it was particularly tricky timing for us and our colleagues at the Citizen’s Forum for Public Service Media, as the Media Bill was due for its final debate in the Lords that very week.

Following 48 hrs of frantic work by our Forum partners and others involved in lobbying around the Bill, it was expedited and passed in the rush before the proroguation of parliament. We were pleased that government felt compelled to compromise with peers that the Forum had been working with and accept an amendment that reinstated the ‘Reithian trilogy’ – the duty of public service broadcasters to ‘inform, educate, entertain’ remains on the statute books.

However, the new Media Act is still seriously deficient in some areas. Despite positive progress ahead of the election announcement, the Act no longer specifies are requirement on Public Service Broadcasters to provide a certain amount of content in socially beneficial genres such as arts coverage or international coverage. In the absence of specifics on this and other issues, as the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) put it in their press release about the passing of the Bill, we “will have to keep a watchful eye on Ofcom to make sure it fulfils its role which is set out in the new law”.

Unfortunately, our previous concerns about the Media Bill’s removal of safeguards for local and community radio still very much apply. And in light of the rushed passage of the Bill, Ofcom’s ongoing consultation on their approach to ‘Key Commitments’ for community radio becomes even more significant. Following four online dialogue sessions hosted by Decentered Media, our member Rob Watson is drawing up an extensive response to the consultation, drawing on input from community radio stations, civic society organisations, education and training organisations, media democracy advocates and other Better Media members. Look out for more details from our response to this consultation in the near future.

Linking with trade unions

Attempting to predict a general election is always a fraught task, but whether Labour forms the next government or returns as opposition to some kind of minority Tory government, it seems very likely that they will have a much greater influence over policy matters in the next parliament. Before the election was called, we were already beginning to have discussions within the Forum and elsewhere about establishing some priorities for lobbying the Labour party on media policy issues.

Over the coming weeks, we will be looking to gather insights and policy positions from our trade union contacts, so that we can represent those interests in lobbying the Labour party (or the new government) on media issues – a topic that the main parties have been relatively quiet on so far in their campaigns.

Promoting community media

But that’s enough election talk! In other news, this week is Indie News Week, with dozens of independent news providers running events in their communities throughout the week to highlight the valuable services they provide, under the slogan ‘No News Is Bad News’.

It’s a great opportunity to learn about the independent news services in your area. Check out the Indie News Week website for details of all the participating publishers – and see if you can get along to an event in your community before the week wraps up. And many of those publishers are benefitting from match funding this week thanks to the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF), so if you have a spare quid to send their way it’ll go twice as far!

That’s all for this month! I’ll be back in July 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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