VLV Bulletin

VLV's Bulletin, which is published twice a year gives details of VLV's activities and keeps members up to date with the latest issues and developments in broadcasting and the media.

VLV bulletin February 2018 - the complete bulletin is available here. As a taster, below is a an article which is published in the bulletin on BBC Education. 


by Wendy Jones

In the next few weeks – possibly even before you read this – the BBC is due to reveal a new and long-awaited strategy on education. This has to be welcome news. It’s a good few years since the last strategy was published and at times the BBC has seemed uncertain over its education mission.

That is not to say that programme-makers and content producers haven’t been delivering some excellent material and projects under the education banner. There have been strong education campaigns that have delivered genuine audience participation in areas such as digital literacy and popular history and science. CBeebies continues to offer a unique educational service for pre-schoolers and Bitesize, which started as TV programmes in the 1990s, has gone from strength to strength and is now a video-rich online resource of study material.

But there have been too many changes in direction, not enough debate about the BBC’s educational purpose in the 21st century and, perhaps most seriously, the BBC as an institution has not seemed to value its education mission sufficiently. Directors-General have rarely made speeches about education in recent years.

Perhaps some of this uncertainty dates back to the knock that the BBC took a decade ago with the BBC Trust’s decision to kill off BBC Jam, the innovative digital education service mortally wounded by competitors angry at the BBC‘s intervention in what they regarded as their marketplace. The demise of Jam deprived UK children of an innovative educational resource, saw £100 million of licence fee funding wasted, but drew relatively few complaints from licence payers. It was a low point from which the BBC’s learning department took some time to recover.

Today the BBC still has to carry the flag for education among public service broadcasters. ITV quit formal education several years ago and Channel 4 now concentrates on non-curricular life skills for teenagers (and it does this very well – arguably better than the BBC). But only the BBC has a broad all-age remit to stimulate interest in “a full range of subjects and issues through content that is accessible and can encourage... learning” and to provide specialist educational content.

It is the informal side of this – especially for adults – that has always been hardest to define. If the BBC still adheres to the original Reithian trinity of ‘inform, educate, entertain’, how does it extract the educational value and which programmes and content does it see as most ‘educational’? Highbrow arts and history programmes? Literary drama adaptations? Or cookery and quiz shows? Popular science programmes? Soaps that say something about modern society and relationships? Potentially all of those and much more besides. 

So it will be interesting to see what the BBC comes up with – how it defines education and what areas it prioritises. There is a lot of ground to be regained but I, for one, am optimistic.

Wendy Jones, is a VLV trustee, former head of policy at BBC Learning and former BBC education correspondent.


The Bulletin is sent free to VLV members. Previous copies are listed below.

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Please email  info@vlv.org.uk


Spring 2017 121                  Summer 2017 122

Spring2016 119            Autumn2016 120

Winter 2015 116, Summer 117, Autumn 118

Spring 2014 114, Autumn 2014 115

Winter 2013 Bulletin 110, Spring 2013 111, Summer 2013 112, Autumn 2013 113

Spring 2012 Bulletin 108, Autumn 2012 Bulletin 109,

Spring 2011 Bulletin 104, Summer 2011 Bulletin 105, Autumn 2011 Bulletin 106, Winter 2011 Bulletin 107

Spring 2010 Bulletin 100, Summer 2010 Bulletin 101, Autumn 2010 Bulletin 102, Winter 2010 Bulletin 103

Autumn 2009 Bulletin 98, Winter 2009 Bulletin 99, Spring 2009 Bulletin 96, Summer 2009 Bulletin 97

Autumn 2008 Bulletin 94, Winter 2008 Bulletin 95, Winter 2008 Bulletin 91, Spring 2008 Bulletin 92, Summer 2008 Bulletin 93

Autumn 2007 Bulletin 90, Spring 2007 Bulletin 87, Summer 2007 Bulletin 89

Autumn 2006 Bulletin 86, Winter 2006 Bulletin 87

Summer 2005 Bulletin 82, Autumn 2005 Bulletin 83, Winter 2005 Bulletin 84, Spring 2006 Bulletin 85

Autumn 2004 Bulletin 79, Winter 2004 Bulletin 80, Spring 2004 Bulletin 81