Government to ease broadcast controls and telecoms rules

The Government will lift many of the controls on the broadcasting and telecoms industries under a ’light touch’ regulatory regime to be unveiled this summer.

The Government will lift many of the controls on the broadcasting

and telecoms industries under a ’light touch’ regulatory regime to be

unveiled this summer.



In a long-awaited Green Paper, Labour will propose ending the separate

regulatory systems for the rapidly converging sectors.



The shake-up could mean the creation of a ’super’ regulator who will

oversee the BBC, ITV and the telecoms industry, at present supervised by

Oftel.



An end to the system under which commercial broadcasters are more

heavily controlled than the BBC would be welcomed by the Institute of

Practitioners in Advertising, which wants one regulator for all media

(Campaign, 16 January).



While in opposition, Labour floated the idea of a single watchdog.

However, it may stop short of implementing the plan by maintaining a

separate radio authority.



Chris Smith, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, will

present the Government’s blueprint as a way of freeing the two

industries from unnecessary bureaucratic controls so they can prosper in

a new era.



Smith confirms in this week’s Campaign: ’The world’s broadcasting,

telecoms and computing industries are merging so rapidly that it’s going

to be necessary to change the regulatory regime. It has to be done with

a ’lighter touch’ than has been used in the past.’



The Government is proceeding cautiously. It will not finalise its plans

until studying an inquiry into the regulatory systems by the Commons



select committee on culture, media and sport, to be published after

Easter.



Chris Smith interview, p7.