Letter : Labour has fought Murdoch stranglehold on digital TV

Sir: Polly Toynbee (28 October) continues to assert that Labour has acquiesced in allowing Rupert Murdoch to develop a monopoly position over future digital television services. As the Opposition spokespersons who took the recent Broadcasting Bill through all its House of Commons stages we continually raised both the issue of conditional access and the need to ensure that there was compatibility between digital television systems.

On the penultimate day of the Bill's proceedings we finally accepted a reassurance from the DTI minister Ian Taylor MP that a new government clause to the Bill when combined with the relevant regulations would "ensure the greatest practicable mutual technical compatibility of digital television services across all three delivery mechanisms - terrestrial, satellite and cable".

It is now up to the Government to ensure that those regulations provide the necessary powers to Oftel and the Independent Television Commission to ensure that this compatibility exists. Should there be any doubt about the adequacy of the Government's proposals we will ensure that they are debated and voted on in Parliament.

If BSkyB sign contracts for decoder boxes before the regulations have been finalised they must risk the regulators declaring that they cannot be used.


(Kirkaldy, Lab)

Opposition spokesperson on broadcasting


(Ashfield, Lab)

Opposition spokesperson on trade and industry

House of Commons, London SW1