Across the movement for media reform, there are many ways to take action and make our voices heard. This can look like:
At MRC, we conduct research and lobby politicians around policies, and also work with partners to mobilise our members and the wider public to demand change. See how you can get involved in our current campaigns.
In the summer of 2021, the government announced a public consultation on whether to privatise Channel 4. The Media Reform Coalition worked with We Own It to bring together civil society groups including Voice of the Listener and Viewer, British Broadcasting Challenge and 38 Degrees to plan how to mobilise people. MRC played our part by producing briefing to help people answer the questions in the consultation.
The response was huge, with 56,000 people making their views known – and 96% of them opposing privatisation. These took a long time to be processed, and it was six months before the government published what people had said and its response. Even though they said they were going to go ahead with privatisation, that six months bought valuable time for industry lobbying, protests, petitions and writing to MPs.
The legislation to privatise Channel 4 then got even more delayed through the second half of 2022 when we had three prime ministers in the space of a few months. Finally in January 2023 the Sunak government bowed to public pressure and dropped the idea. This battle show that our tactics can work – coordinated action by civil society organisations, combined with lobbying from unions and the media industry, prevented a terrible attack on our public infrastructure.
In 2017, Rupert Murdoch’s company 21st-century Fox put in a bid to buy the entirety of Sky. This would have given him even more control over UK news, even after the systemic criminal behaviour at his newspapers had been revealed in the Leveson Inquiry.
MRC worked with the campaign organisation Avaaz to coordinate opposition to the bid. We produced research to show what the impact of the sale would be on UK news, and this research was crucial in getting the bid referred to Ofcom and investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). We also worked with 38 Degrees to reveal that Murdoch’s lobbying of government had intensified at this time.
MRC was a core participant in the CMA investigation, who blocked the bid on plurality grounds. Ultimately, Murdoch pulled out of the bid and sold his stake in Sky – showing that our campaigning really can win.