Ofcom’s Media Literacy Strategy

Centring around the principles of research, partnering and labelling, Ofcom have published a report outlining a strategy for media literacy in the UK.

Ofcom recognise that the public are now faced with a huge choice of media, and that familiarity and media awareness are essential to managing this choice, protecting children and understanding the world around us. The regulator wishes to promote media literacy as “A media literate person will have the potential to be an efficient worker, an informed consumer and an active citizen. People who are not able to use effectively the new communications technologies will not be able to take full advantage of the benefits they bring and may become marginalised in society.”

Ofcom’s strategy is based around three main work strands:

“Research. Key to the success of our early work and in defining future priorities is to develop an evidence-base of research. This will help us to identify the issues, to direct our work and inform progress towards achieving our goals.

Connecting, partnering & signposting. We aim to add value to existing media literacy activity, to stimulate new work and to promote and direct people to advice and guidance concerning new communications technologies.

Labelling. Viewers and listeners need to have clear, accurate and timely information about the nature of content so that they can make informed choices. Our prime concern is to ensure consistency in the presentation of information related to possible harm and offence, in particular to help protect young and vulnerable people from inappropriate material. This advice can be effectively delivered using a content labelling framework. Ofcom will work with industry players to explore the possibility of creating a common content labelling (information) scheme for electronic audiovisual material.”

Of primary interest to many, the call for a universal e-content label covering TV, internet, mobile products and games presents a considerable challenge to industry. Ofcom isn’t even sure it can be done – and of course the regulator has no remit when it comes to internet content.

Ofcom’s strategy and priorities for the promotion of media literacy

Published by

Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?