The Media Bill: VLV Concerns

The Government’s Media Bill has been introduced to Parliament. VLV’s Policy Advisor, Sophie Chalk, appeared on the Roger Bolton BeebWatch podcast to discuss how it will impact on listeners and viewers. You listen to the recording by clicking on the image below. 

While VLV supports many of the provisions in the Bill, we have concerns about whether it goes far enough to support high quality broadcasting which benefits citizens in the UK. 

We are concerned that the BIll places fewer specific responsibilities on the Public Service Broadcasters to provide what is considered to be societally valuable content, such as arts, religion, education and science programming. We also believe that the Bill provides an opportunity to update and clarify impartiality regulation. You can read a Briefing Note on VLV concerns by clicking on the button below. 

The DCMS Select Committee made recommendations on the draft Bill which the Government has listened to. It has made some amendments which VLV welcomes. Its suggestions included that current obligations on the PSBs to provide programming in areas such as religion, international matters and science should be retained and that the PSBs should be given ‘significant’ rather than ‘appropriate’ prominence in listings and searches for content on connected devices, so that public service content is always carried and easy to find.

VLV’s concerns about the Bill were highlighted in its written and oral evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill. 

You can view a video of the session by clicking on the photo and you can read a transcript of the session here. You can read VLV’s full written submission to the Committee by clicking on the button below. 

To ensure effective representation of citizen issues in the debate around the Bill, VLV has established the Citizens Forum for Public Service Media, a coalition of civil society organisations with an interest in democracy and broadcasting. You can find out more about the Forum by clicking on the image below. 

VLV’s policy advisor, Sophie Chalk, also spoke about the Bill at an event held by the Orwell Festival about the future of public service broadcasting alongside broadcaster Jon Sopel and Kevin Brennan MP, member of the Culture Media and Sport Committee. The session was chaired by Professor Jean Seaton of the University of Westminster. You can view a video of this event by clicking on the photo. 

VLV also ran a session on the draft Bill at its Spring Conference on the draft Media Bill which featured Professor Steven Barnett, Lord McNally, Sophie Chalk of VLV and Anna McNamee of the Sandford St Martin Trust.  The event was chaired by Tim Suter. You can view a video of the session by clicking on the photo. 

VLV’s concerns about the effectiveness of impartiality regulation which is governed by the 2003 Communications Act. We view the updating of the Communications Act with the Media Bill as an opportunity to clarify impartiality regulation. We have prepared a briefing on this issue which you can download below. 

VLV will continue to proactively work with Parliamentarians and the Government in the coming months to ensure they are aware of our concerns.