Community media could air state messages - MP

A backbench MP has suggested that government departments should fund community TV and radio stations to help spread central public information messages.

Brixton's Issue FM community radio
Brixton's Issue FM community radio

The proposal by Ian Stewart, Labour MP for Eccles, has raised fears about editorial independence among some charity broadcasters.

Stewart, who is also chair of the all-party parliamentary community media group, made the suggestion during a debate on the future of community media in Parliament last week.

He said government money could help secure the future of non-profit TV and radio stations, which often struggle to find adequate funding.

"The Home Office could release a sum for community media to boost understanding of the criminal justice system," he said.

"The Department for Education and Skills could provide funds for a national scheme to engage non-attending pupils."

Damien Radcliffe, nat- ional broadcast and development manager at Community Service Volunteers, which broadcasts appeals via BBC local radio stations, said editorial interference would need to be avoided.

"We would be concerned about the impact on the relationship that community media outlets have with their communities if they are seen as government mouthpieces."

However, the Community Media Association, which provides the secretariat for the all-party parliamentary group on community media, supported the idea.

"Community media service a range of departmental agendas," said Alan Fransman, deputy director of the association. "Editorial isn't compromised if you serve those agendas anyway."

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