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Global Media and Communications Watch The International Legal Blog for the Tech, Media and Telecoms Industry
Posted in Broadcasting, Policy & Regulation, Spectrum, Telecoms & Broadband Peter Watts

Insights into future UK policy

UK minister Ed Vaizey today sketched the Government’s approach to some areas of media and communications policy ahead of a formal White Paper expected in the first half of 2013.

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention he provided insights on areas including;

  • Spectrum: Alongside explicit recognition of the critical importance of spectrum, the Minister emphasised a continued focus on freeing up, and ensuring the efficient use of, that spectrum.
  • Content: Affirming the Government’s commitment to support the UK’s content industries (building on content related tax breaks and other recent initiatives), the Minister stressed the importance of flexible, dynamic and responsive content markets. He indicated an intention to ensure that regulation supports this objective.
  • Satellite Retransmission Fees: He specifically indicated a desire so see the elimination of fees charged for retransmission of the UK’s public service channels via satellite (to match the position on cable). Whilst expressing a preference that this be achieved voluntarily, he made clear that Government was prepared to look at its regulatory options if necessary.
  • EU data protection regulation: In relation to personal data he emphasised the need for an appropriate balance between protecting consumers and a workable regime for responsible business. In particular, the Minister welcomed the current re-evaluation of EU regulation in the area of data protection. He rejected the notion that it might be appropriate for businesses to “balk” at the review instead indicating a Government commitment constructively to engage in the process.
  • Intellectual Property and Territorial Licensing: In response to a question, the Minister reiterated the focus on the existing Government initiatives following the Hargreaves Review and the importance the UK Government attaches to copyright. However he also explicitly recognised industry concerns regarding the difficulties associated with territorial licensing.
  • Unsolicited marketing: Mr Vaizey expressed a  desire to simplify the enforcement mechanisms safeguarding consumers from  unsolicited online marketing given perceived complexity facing consumers in the current split of responsibilities between Ofcom, the Information Commissioner and the Telephone Preference Service
  • TV Advertising: Again responding to questions, he indicated that Government has no plans to equalise the rules which currently confine the key UK commercial TV channels to carrying less advertising minutes than their “multichannel” competitors
  • Online child protection: The Minister stressed a continued emphasis on ensuring that the protection of children in an online environments keeps pace with the evolving market
  • Media plurality: Plurality was not addressed in the speech, the Minister confining himself to a recognition that it remains a “live issue”
  • Digital radio: Asked for an update on the Government’s position on this, Mr Vaizey reconfirmed the plan to take a “consumer led” decision on digital switchover at the end of 2013.