PMA has significant concerns about a new panel to “help shape” the future of public service broadcasting in the UK.


Reviews of public media regularly take place around the world, so in that sense this is nothing new. Rigorous and articulate debates about public media are always welcome as public media must continue to innovate to thrive and survive.  But there are core values at the heart of public media and of those, independence is central. Independence should be as important to those shaping public media, as it is to the journalists who work for it.

Today the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, set out his initial plans in an article for The Telegraph, via Twitter and as a press release on the UK Government website.

The process is to formally agree the cost of a TV Licence from 2022 but also includes an announcement of a new ‘PSB Advisory Panel’ made up of media industry professionals. According to the government’s own website, ‘The PSB Advisory Panel will advise ministers on whether public service broadcasting remains relevant and what a modern PSB system should contribute to economic, cultural and democratic life across the UK. It will explore if current funding and governance models are fit for purpose’.

The UK is frequently regarded as the ‘home’ of public media and what happens in the UK has global ramifications for public media everywhere. So, one might expect to find a good deal of expertise in current thinking on public media amongst the panel. In that sense, a glance through the list of names appointed may well raise eyebrows and some concern.

The list of the ten names includes current and former heads of independent production companies and the Vice President of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Facebook. The list also includes the former Head of Communications at 10 Downing Street, Robbie Gibb, brother of Conservative MP Nick Gibb.

What I strongly believe the panel lacks, is real and current expertise on global thinking in public media, its values and evolving role in society. Without this expert input it would be hard for the UK to live up to its long held and worldwide reputation as being the nation to take the lead in public media.

The work of the panel is something that PMA will continue to observe and report on in the coming weeks.

Sally-Ann Wilson, CEO PMA

Header Image: London, UK – People outside the main entrance to the BBC’s Broadcasting House building in central London. Credit: georgeclerk/iStock