EDINBURGH TELEVISION FESTIVAL: Puttnam fears UK TV market position will be swallowed by US

Lord Puttnam has defended his opposition to the Government's proposal to allow US media companies to take over British TV companies.

In his Worldview address in Edinburgh, Puttnam denied that his committee overseeing scrutiny of the Draft Communications Bill was motivated by an anti-US agenda. Instead he said he was worried there would be a reduction in inward investment, reducing the UK to a peripheral market position within a giant international production and distribution company.

He said he was not concerned if the ITV companies went to the wall and that the Government should not allow them to trade-off their public service obligations.

He also criticised those television executives who were in favour of a foreign takeover purely for their desire to realise the value of their share options.

Puttnam pushed the case for a powerful and effective Ofcom to regulate the industry, claiming that UK governments had frequently and historically lacked the bottle to enforce the powers available to them.

He cited the example of Rupert Murdoch being allowed to grow his News Corporation empire to its current size thanks to the unwillingness of various governments to enforce the regulatory powers at their disposal.

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