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16 March, 2006

The Citizenship Foundation welcomes the focus on citizenship as outlined in the BBC Whitepaper

The recently published Government White Paper setting out the future functions, role and structure of the BBC retains “sustaining citizenship and civil society” as one of the six new aims for the corporation as set out in the original Green Paper.

In the Paper, the purpose of citizenship is defined as “informing ourselves and others and increasing our understanding of the world through news, information and analysis of current events and ideas”. Public consultation demonstrated support of various areas including stimulating engagement with social and political issues through programming outside news and current affairs, helping people understand Parliament and the UK political system, explaining issues behind the news and promoting media literacy.

At the Citizenship Foundation we recognise the role broadcast media plays in shaping people’s perception of society and their roles within it. By putting citizenship high on the BBC’s priority list, we hope that there will be a strong focus on empowering people to both understand and get involved in, their wider communities.

The corresponding focus on media literacy highlights the importance for the public to develop “critical skills in analysing, assessing and developing their own critique of the media.” Responsible and informative journalism, coupled with an awareness of how to understand the media can play a key role in developing informed and engaged citizens, which in turn create a vibrant and effective democracy.

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