Conor Dignam: Over to Gordon, but don't hold your breath

Related Topics

Anyone expecting Lord Carter's Digital Britain report to tie up all the media industry's major policy and public service issues in one neat package was kidding themselves. It was never going to happen.

The sheer breadth of the brief – from IP rights to public service broadcasting, universal broadband access, local news and cross media ownership laws – meant this was always going to be a report that dealt with many key issues in broad-brush terms, outlining general direction but failing to provide the detail of quite how it will all be achieved.

The fact that it had also been revealed that Lord Carter will soon be quitting his specially created role of minister of communications, technology and broadcasting also dealt a blow to the report's credibility even before it was published.

But the report does offer an ambitious plan of action that could deliver the Digital Britain Carter wants to see, including universal access to broadband by 2012. The most controversial measure is confirmation that the BBC's licence fee will be "top-sliced" to help pay for this universal broadband access. The BBC will also face contestable funding for some of the "surplus" licence fee earmarked originally to help with the switchover to digital TV. Carter's vision will be welcomed by many who believe the licence fee has to be opened up to a broader base of organisations producing "public service" content.

Digital Britain essentially identifies licence fee funds – or the surplus part of them – as the public pot from which other organisations need to be able to take money to support greater plurality. They will be lining up to take their share.

So funding for new regional news services and programmes for older children may all come from this contestable fund. All in all the report makes grim reading for the BBC. For Channel 4, there also remains uncertainty. It is expected to tie up some form of deal with BBC Worldwide, as the Government's preferred option for safeguarding its future, amid projections of a £100m shortfall in its public service fund. But nothing is yet confirmed – and the BBC will be reluctant to see any transfer.

On other fronts Digital Britain makes more headway, with a clear framework to protect copyright from illegal filesharing and with ISPs being instructed to do more to protect the intellectual property of others.

In the end Digital Britain begs as many questions as it answers – not least whether Gordon Brown's government has the energy or focus to deliver it.

Conor Dignam is the group editor of Broadcast and Screen International

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Andy Coulson  

Andy Coulson: With former News of the World editor cleared of perjury charges, what will he do next?

James Cusick James Cusick
Jack Warner  

Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Tom Peck
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?