Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 46

Memorandum submitted by the Media Trust

  The Media Trust, a registered charity, resources the communications needs of the UK's voluntary and community sector. We work in partnership with the media and communications industry to provide media training and advice, video and TV production for and about the voluntary sector. Media and communications professionals volunteer their time and resources to help charities and community groups across the UK. The Media Trust developed and runs the Community Channel, the UK's first charity TV channel, broadcasting free-to-view on Sky digital 684 and web at www.communitychannel.org

  The Media Trust is a member of the Public Voice coalition, and supports the written evidence to the committee submitted by Public Voice.

  The Media Trust's particular concerns are summarised below. We look forward to the opportunity to expand on this evidence at an oral session:

1.  THE PROPOSED STRUCTURE, FUNCTIONS, DUTIES AND POWERS OF OFCOM:

  1.1  OFCOM should have a clear remit to protect, foster and enhance active citizenship, community cohesion and democratic participation. Its work should balance this requirement with any imperative to facilitate the growth of the market and the needs of consumers.

  1.2  OFCOM should be in a position to resource and "seed-fund" innovative forms of not-for-profit public service media and other services, at national, regional and local levels.

  1.3  Any fines collected by OFCOM, including those from the BBC, should contribute to a dedicated fund for this purpose.

  1.4  OFCOM should have to reserve spectrum for the above services, encouraging and enabling new public service offerings, at national, regional and local levels, similar to the development of Channel 4 and S4C. The Media Trust endorses the recommendation in Professor Cave's Review of Radio Spectrum Management that spectrum could be released to this effect (paragraph. 11.17).

  1.5  OFCOM should have the power to add to the current "must-carry" provision, given the potential of new public service offerings.

  1.6  The Media Trust endorses the Bill's proposal to strengthen and promote media literacy, and welcomes OFCOM's potential role as a funder and catalyst for this work. It should be noted that the voluntary and community sector already plays a vital role in this area, as well as in media training, and should be used to deliver and target this provision to those most in need.

2.  THE PROPOSED FRAMEWORK FOR THE PROMOTION OF A DYNAMIC AND COMPETITIVE COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA MARKET IN THE UK:

  2.1  A dynamic and competitive market must not threaten the UK's unique tradition of public service media.

  2.2  The Bill should safeguard, through regulation, and through resources, the strengthening of our public service offerings.

3.  THE PLACE OF NATIONS, REGIONS, LOCALITIES, COMMUNITIES AND INTEREST GROUPS:

  3.1  It is essential that the UK's diverse communities, whether geographically based or "communities of interest", are represented across all our media, and given opportunities to build their own media outlets.

  3.2  The promotion of media literacy and industry training opportunities to as diverse a range of communities and localities is crucial in protecting these interests.

  3.3  Minority outlets, at a local or national level, act as a catalyst for mainstream content that reflects their views and voices, and act as a vital training ground for those less-well represented in mainstream media.

  3.4  The Bill should safeguard existing minority media, and make provision for the allocation of resources and spectrum to develop additional services.

4.  THE BALANCE IN THE PROPOSALS BETWEEN CLEAR STATUTORY PROVISION AND FUTURE-PROOFING IN THE LIGHT OF TECHNOLOGICAL, MARKET AND SOCIAL CHANGE:

  4.1  Remembering the positive effects of Channel 4 on the other 3 public service channels, the Bill should make provision for new public service offerings, at national, regional and local levels, as detailed above.

June 2002


 
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