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Media Literacy: The UK’s undead cultural policy.

Wallis, R. and Buckingham, D., 2019. Media Literacy: The UK’s undead cultural policy. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 25 (2), 188-203.

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Wallis & Buckingham_Media_Literacy_The_UK's_undead_cultural_policy_2016-BURO.pdf - Accepted Version


DOI: 10.1080/10286632.2016.1229314


This article examines media literacy in the UK: a policy that emerged within the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in the late 1990s, was adopted by the New Labour administration, and enshrined in the Communications Act 2003. That legislation gave the new media regulator, Ofcom, a duty to ‘promote’ media literacy, although it left the term undefined. The article describes how Ofcom managed this regulatory duty. It argues that over time, media literacy was progressively reduced in scope, focusing on two policy priorities related to the growth of the internet. In the process, media literacy’s broader educative purpose, so clearly articulated in much of the early policy rhetoric, was effectively marginalized. From the Coalition government onwards, the promotion of media literacy was reduced further to a matter of market research. Today, if not altogether dead, the policy is governed by entirely different priorities to those imagined at its birth.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:media literacy; Ofcom; DCMS; 2003 Communications Act; undead policy
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:24585
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:25 Aug 2016 11:09
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:58


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