Industry backlash on Carter link to ITV

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The Independent Online

Leading broadcasting companies warned of a backlash if the communications minister Lord Stephen Carter takes a senior position in the industry after quitting the Government, and will call on official guidelines to block the move.

Lord Carter, who is preparing to unveil his Digital Britain report next week, is leaving the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills after the summer.

His name has been heavily linked to the forthcoming vacancy at the top of ITV and speculation grew yesterday after his plans to step down emerged. Headhunters Russell Reynolds are currently compiling a long list of names.

Yet Lord Carter would face a ministerial review which is likely to rule him out from the running. The code of ethics and procedural guidance for ministers drawn up in 2007 says that on leaving office ministers "must seek" advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments on any jobs two years after leaving office. It added: "Ministers will be expected to abide by the advice of the committee."

Rivals believe this should rule Lord Carter out of replacing Michael Grade as executive chairman of ITV. One pointed to the Advisory Committee guideline that said it would ask: "Has the former minister been in a position where he or she has had access to trade secrets of competitors or knowledge of unannounced government policy which would give his or her company an unfair advantage?" In his role as regulator as chief executive at Ofcom and Digital Britain he has had considerable sight of the financial projections of rivals including the BBC, Channel 4, Five and BSkyB, one insider said.

He continued: "It is absolutely clear that most parties would have questions over ITV's appointment of the man responsible for Digital Britain."

Lord Carter was appointed communications minister in October after serving as chief strategist and principal adviser to Gordon Brown.

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