Last week we sent a letter to Lord Hall, the Director General of the BBC regarding the development of the Media Democracy Foundation. The wording was as follows:
Dear Lord Hall
The Community Media Association (CMA) welcomes your proposal for a review of the existing remit of the Local News Partnership, and the principles and terms of reference on which it operates. We are supportive of your proposal, and your public commitment to promoting and improving news and information services for local communities. As this review process is undertaken, we would wish to make a positive contribution, as we believe that we have significant insight and experience to draw on from our work with not-for-profit and community-based media groups. Community radio stations, for example, are licensed by Ofcom for their social gain intentions, particularly as they serve and represent communities that are otherwise underrepresented in the media economy.
The CMA advocates a hands-on and participatory approach to media democracy, in which volunteers gain direct access and experience of producing content for and running platforms for news, broadcasting and community information. Therefore, as the terms of reference for the review of the Local News Partnership are developed, the CMA would recommend a commitment to a participatory and developmental approach. For example, the aim of the News Partnership is to enhance civic engagement, but there is no model of civic engagement that is being applied to the operation of the Partnership in its present form.
The CMA believes there is great value in establishing an open, transparent and collaborative developmental process based on informed discussion of a wide range of civic democracy options. Likewise, there will be an opportunity to undertake wider critical scrutiny of the partnership if information relating to the diversity of in-put and output to the Partnership are published. The CMA feels that the Partnership review should take the opportunity to ask wider questions about the state of civic deliberation in the UK, and the process of embed-ding civic and media literacies that allow the public to engage with debates and discussions that matter to them.
As technology is changing, and as our media platforms are open to more direct participation, the CMA considers that the civic values of mutual trust and understanding need to be reinforced. The BBC’s mission is underpinned by a complete commitment to professional integrity. Sharing and promoting these values in a changing media economy and civic culture would be a lasting testimony to the rich heritage of the BBC work.
Danny Lawrence BEM, BCAc
Chairman, Community Media Association – 2019