Memorandum submitted by the Association
of Local Government Communications (LGcommunications)
1.1 The Association of Local Government
Communications (LGcommunications) is the national voice for UK
local authority public relations and communications functions.
Membership is local authorit-based and involves local authorities
in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and all English regions.
1.2 The association provides a forum for
discussion and exchange of information, views and opinion on local
government communications to encourage the highest standards of
2. MEDIA OWNERSHIP:
2.1 The Communications White Paper forecast
a new broadcasting role for local authorities in the development
of digital radio and television. This recognition of the potential
role of local authorities and the importance of locality as a
driver for digital take up was welcomed by the association.
2.2 "We will allow local authorities
to provide information services via television and radio, subject
to regulatory safeguards to prevent this new freedom being exploited
for political purposes." (Para 4.9.3, Communications White
2.3 This envisaged role for local authorities
in broadcasting is consistent with the powers of promoting well-being
in a locality and the community leadership role in the Local Government
Act 2000, the subsequent DTLR guidance and the proposals in the
Local Government White Paper (DTLR, December 2001) implementation
plan. The advantages of a greater role for local authorities was
also rehearsed in the first Office of the eEnvoy's Digital Television
Policy Framework published in 2000 and in the two subsequent updated
versions circulated for consultation last year.
2.4 The association strongly supports the
inclusion in the final legislation of the Draft Communications
Bill proposal (Clause 231DTI commentary Chapter 5, paragraphs
126 and 127) to relax the disqualification in the 1990 Broadcasting
Act to allow local authorities to directly hold a broadcasting
2.5 The provision by a local authority of
information concerning the services available within the area
of that authority is central to the modernisation of local government
and local public services. Digital television and radio are acknowledged
by government to become important channels of communications between
providers of public services, communities and citizens.
2.6 Integrated media content on interactive
digital television and radio is seen as having the potential to
be an amalgam for a multi-channel approach to citizensproviding
a popular, compelling and interesting way of ordering, coordinating
and organising access to televisual material, online content and
transactions, print and personal face-to-face contacts with public
3.1 The inclusion of Draft Clause 231 in
the final legislation would recognise the local authority power
to promote the well-being of their locality, the role as a community
leader and the duty to develop a local community vision contained
in the Local Government Act 2000. The government believes that
councils should as well as increasing public awareness of the
council and its role generally; a primary purpose of local authority
publicity should be to seek the views of local stakeholders about
issues which will have an impact on local communities.
3.2 Local authorities have been subject
to a Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity
since 1988. The code was altered in April 2001 to reflect the
importance of councils consulting with their communities. Local
authority publicity is required to be balanced, informative and
accurate; not be politically partisan and not be designed to persuade
people to hold a certain view. Local authorities have a record
of acting responsibly in terms of publicity and complying with
the terms and spirit of the code.
3.3 Inclusion of Draft Clause 231 in the
final legislation would also support the central proposition in
the Local Government White Paper (DTLR, December 2001) that government
will remove unnecessary controls, which stifle local innovation.
The government argues that "to realise our common aim of
improving people's quality of life councils need greater freedom
and wider powers to deliver".