Media Literacy: New Labour Policies in the United Kingdom, 1997-2010.

Authors: Wallis, R.

Conference: Film and Media 2014: The Fourth Annual London Film and Media Conference

Dates: 26-28 June 2014


This paper provides a historiographical account of media literacy policy in the UK as it advanced and receded under New Labour (1997-2010). It examines the origins of the policy, the different discourses and definitions that came into play, and the roles of the various agents involved. Three policy perspectives are examined: first, that of the Department for Culture Media and Sport and Ofcom, foregrounding communications policy and the requirement for the communications regulator, Ofcom, to promote media literacy; second, that of the response to this policy on the part of the industry, with particular reference to the UK Film Council and the BBC (also required to promote media literacy); and third, that of the Department for Education and Skills and its partners, foregrounding education policy. It is argued that there were significant strategic shifts in the debates around media literacy that reflect broader tensions between neoliberal and social-democratic tendencies within New Labour’s communications policy. Moreover, a deliberate ambivalence about its meaning and intention allowed it to be appropriated by a range of other policy concerns and priorities that obfuscated its intended purpose.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Richard Wallis