Policy Briefing on the UK Government’s Broadcasting White Paper

May 17, 2022

The UK government’s recent White Paper on broadcasting represents a concerted ideological attack on public service media, built on spurious evidence and undertaken entirely without meaningful democratic process, a new policy briefing by the Media Reform Coalition finds.

This is the fourth policy document based partly on the Media Influence Matrix: UK report, the Who Owns the UK Media? report and MRC’s Manifesto for a People’s Media. The briefing contains a number of action points based on these reports.

The main findings include:

  • The proposed revisions to the remit and regulatory frameworks for PSB are inadequate, and do not capture the full range of benefits that the public expects from the UK’s PSB ecology
  • Proposals to update the prominence framework for PSBs on Video-on-demand services are welcome but will achieve little in the context of the government’s broader attacks on the sector
  • Plans for a new voluntary Video-on-demand Code are too light-touch and will create a two-tiered system in broadcasting regulation
  • The decision to privatise Channel 4 runs counter to the best available evidence and has no democratic mandate
  • The BBC licence fee settlement and mid-term Charter review demonstrate direct interference by government and reveal the urgent need for measures to safeguard the BBC’s independence

The White Paper’s vision for the future of UK broadcasting involves a diminished public service remit, more commercialised media regulation and the collapse of funding for independent, accountable and democratic media sources, the briefing concludes.

The first policy briefing in the series covered the most important current debates in UK media policy; the second one addressed the issue of the BBC licence fee; the third one focued on the Online Safety Bill. 

The collection of articles and policy briefings based on the UK Media Influence Matrix Report, as well as the report's chapters and more information about the project can be found here