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ICT: Training

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on increasing levels of digital literacy. (250640)

[holding answer 27 January 2009]: The Government and a number of other bodies have undertaken work on various aspects of digital and media literacy. In the Communications Act 2003, we gave Ofcom a statutory duty to work with others to promote media literacy in the UK. My Department works closely with Ofcom on its media literacy priorities and contributes annual funding to Ofcom's work in this area, which includes the periodic audit of changes in media literacy skills across the UK. Their audit has demonstrated that progress has been made, but we recognise that there is more work to be done.

The new BBC Charter and Agreement also places a specific duty on the BBC Trust to promote media literacy. Furthermore, a wide range of activity is being undertaken by both education providers and industry—such as the Media Literacy Task Force—aimed at increasing levels of media literacy.

In addition, the Government have set out a range of cross-departmental strategies that will further enhance media literacy. The Prime Minister has appointed my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales as Minister for Digital Inclusion and he has recently consulted on a Digital Inclusion Action Plan, aimed at improving access and skills to encourage the best use of digital technologies, building on the success of the 6,000 UK online centres in England. Furthermore, as one of the key recommendations from the Byron Review on internet safety, we have established the UK Council for Child Internet Safety which is developing a strategy including education and awareness for parents, carers and children.

The interim Digital Britain report (Cm 7548) identifies the skills and literacy challenges to a fully digital Britain. We have therefore asked Ofcom to make an assessment of its current responsibilities in relation to media literacy and, working with the BBC and others, to recommend a new definition and ambition for a National Media Literacy Plan as a contribution to the final Digital Britain Report in the summer.