On Tuesday 16th June the Government published the Digital Britain report. The report outlines the direction of policy in several areas of digital media from infrastructure to digital literacy. On the following day Birmingham held the first in a series of regional debates on the report. The event was organised by Digital Birmingham, part of Birmingham City Council, and featured a keynote address by Lord Stephen Carter who oversaw the writing of the report. Parallel to this “official” event, a 2nd Digital Britain Unconference was held at Fazeley Studios. Lord Carter also attended this event where he spent some time taking questions from the floor.

The content of the report has been discussed in depth across all media (Rhubarb Radio are running an excellent aggregator of blog mentions). Rather than add to this well established body of work, I thought I’d reflect specifically on what our Digital Britain response says about Birmingham, what opportunities it provides for the city, and what challenges it might present for Interactive Cultures and Birmingham City University:

  1. Birmingham is ready for Digital Britain. It wants to be part of the debate, and it wants to be part of the future that the report maps out. Our creative industries, our universities, our third sector and our regional and city agencies all came out in force at both events to make sense of Digital Britain.
  2. Responding to Digital Britain is about more than just continuing to develop a vibrant creative industries sector: Dave Harte has identified one or two areas of the report that provide specific opportunities for Birmingham to take a key lead (mentioned on Twitter, and I expect a blog post will follow).
  3. While a complete switch over to DAB for existing commercial and BBC radio seems problematic, it presents fantastic opportunities for community radio on FM frequencies that will no doubt be a key discussion topic at the Community Radio Forum that is being convened by Interactive Cultures in the coming weeks.
  4. The areas of the report related to education and skills will impact our work within Birmingham City University as media educators. This is an area that we’re already reflecting on: our Birmingham School of Media colleague Caroline Officer has convened cross faculty discussions in association with Skillset to ensure that we are developing degree programs and short courses to meet the objectives of the report. For Interactive Cultures own Paul Long’s take on this, you can listen to his speech from the 1st unconference in a recent podcast episode.

Birmingham Centre For Media And Cultural Research

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