The Media Reform Coalition (MRC) marked the launch of its Media Democracy Festival this week (see: https://www.mediareform.org.uk/blog/media-democracy-festival-2021) by publishing a new report on media ownership in the UK. It makes depressing, although predictable, reading. The MRC produced its first report in 2015 when they argued (along with many others) that concentrated ownership of the media was a significant problem for any modern democracy. Four years later an updated report showed that not only did concentrated ownership persist but that the problem was getting worse. Since then the situation has deteriorated.
While the government is still deciding on whether to decriminalise non-payment of the television licence fee, following a public consultation earlier this year, the very future of the TV licence fee hangs in the balance. Although safe until the next BBC Charter Review in 2027, when the way the BBC is governed and funded is decided, government ministers are reported as saying they are “open minded” about how to fund the BBC from then onwards.
The central role the media has played in the General Election Campaign is undeniable. So is the pro Conservative party dominance of much of the national press together with its anti-Labour party bias. Social media has again offered alternative platforms for the parties and people to get their messages across. Since the last election we have seen increasing consolidation of media ownership, the latest takeover being announced at the end of November when JPIMedia sold the i newspaper and website for a reported £49.6m to the billionaire Lord Rothermere’s Daily Mail and General Trust, which owns the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline. Meanwhile press baron David Montgomery is in talks to buy JPIMedia which owns dozens of major local British newspapers.
So what new policies do the parties offer to counter these concerns and make our media ‘fit for purpose’? Continue reading Media reform – are the parties up to the challenge?