Cross-fertilisation on the radio waves

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The Independent Online
From Mr Graham Allen, MP

Sir: Despite the warfare within the Tory party, Stephen Dorrell seems to have suddenly developed a burst of enthusiasm for National Heritage. Although this may have been kindled by the prospects of a reshuffle after the leadership election, he has at least had the good sense to recognise that the Government's "discredited system of auctioning television franchises" ("Digital TV fee to replace franchise auction", 28 June) should not be used for allocating digital television licences.

Clearly, cross-fertilisation of ideas can occur in the Chamber, as only last week, in a debate on digital television, I suggested to Stephen Dorrell that

the future allocation of digital terrestrial channels should be on the basis of bidders paying above a minimum price, which could be set by the ITC. Licences should be allocated thereafter on quality and nature of content only.

The Independent (29 June) also reveals that Stephen Dorrell is reconsidering the system for allocating radio franchises. Again, we have argued that the radio franchising system is an ideological farce that should be scrapped.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that the party as a whole is willing to turn away from the "dogma of Tory government thinking in the Eighties" (from the same report on 28 June). If Stephen Dorrell really is "born again", he may be worth a vote in the second round.

Yours faithfully,

Graham Allen

MP for Nottingham North (Lab)

House of Commons

London SW1

The writer is shadow minister for media.

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