We are living in unprecedented times.
The volume of disinformation surrounding recent elections and the Covid 19 pandemic threaten to disrupt not only democratic processes, but also our safety.
Evidence shows that the people who are most disadvantaged are also those who are most at risk from being targeted by conspiracy theorists. In these challenging times we need to be able to rely on our Public Service Broadcasters (PSB) knowing that we will get accurate news.
However, PSB is under threat through gradual decline of support and funding from government.
PSB is ours, the public’s, and we should be able to voice our concerns about its development and direction to government, which should be transparent in the way PSB is funded and regulated.
The current system is not accountable or transparent enough. PSB funding is set by the government without any public debate; complaints processes are complex and opaque; there is a virtual lack of consultation by the BBC and Ofcom; and there is little opportunity for citizens to influence their strategies.
Market research and viewing figures, rather than proactive stakeholder engagement, are the factors used to assess performance. It’s crucial the rights and needs of citizens are highlighted in this debate.
The VLV has been awarded a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, through its Power and Accountability Programme, to set up a Citizens’ Forum as a way of ensuring that citizens’ voices from across the UK have a means of inputting into the debate about broadcasting. The project will run until Autumn 2023.
This work is very timely. The government has said it will privatise Channel 4, the UK’s only publicly-owned commercial broadcaster which could lead to the destabilising of the UK’s globally respected and trusted PSB system. It is also planning a new Media Bill which is intended to reform our broadcasting system.
We anticipate that the Citizens’ Forum will have three main components:
1. An advisory group of partners who will strengthen their impact by working with us.
2. An assembly of Civil Society organisations who we will work with to better understand the views of their members and beneficiaries, so we can support them to make their own policy submissions and to encourage them to publicise their issues of concern.
3. A set of peer organisations focused on large scale democratic engagement for whom we will prepare briefings and messaging, as well as data and research input from VLV.
Please do get in touch if you want to find out more about the Citizens’ Forum by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.