From the TUC

The power of Murdoch

09 Jul 2009, by in Politics

David Cameron’s speech on quangos clearly wasn’t any kind of bonfire – as many have noticed. But it did have one clear policy commitment – taking strategic policy away from Ofcom to give it to a minister.

There is a debate to be had about accountability and quangos, but if there is one area of policy that needs maximum daylight because of the dangers of ministers doing things in return for political favours it is anything involving media magnates.

And this is a not a one sided observation about Conservatives. As the Guardian says today (though I can’t find it online) the government agreed to the Information Commissioner’s request that breaches of the data protection code by private investigators acting for journalists could be punished by prison.

However a lobby by leading figures from News International, the Telegraph Group and Associated Newspapers persuaded Gordon Brown to overrule the plan.”

2 Responses to The power of Murdoch

  1. Calvin Allen
    Jul 9th 2009, 6:12 pm

    Away from your topic, Nigel, I know, but the reference to Ofcom drew me in! This was undoubtedly a bit of unashamed populism from Cameron. Aside of Ofcom being set up by Labour, as a ‘super-regulator’ drawing together the powers of five previous regulators in the broadly-defined communications industry (and thus ticking quite a few boxes for him), Ofcom was, however, a slightly strange target to pick on. Firstly, Ofcom has been largely successful at bringing together policy initiatives previously the remit of somewhat disconnected others – surely a step forward in terms of joined-up regulatory thinking.

    And, secondly, the media issues within the Digital Britain initiative that Cameron highlighted are clearly the policy responsibility of the government departments supervising Digital Britain (i.e. DCMS and BIS), not Ofcom. DCMS and BIS commissioned the initiative jointly to review what action needs to be taken to achieve a Digital Britain and, on the whole, this has been a pretty well-run, and wide, public consultation. But it is the departments that retain control of the plicy agenda.

    Which really raises the question of how much Cameron understands of Digital Britain – and how much of it he would support: and, somewhere down the line, that may well engender an interesting debate around the lines of division.

  2. Charlie Marks
    Jul 10th 2009, 8:30 pm

    Ofcom wants Sky to allow other broadcasting networks like Virgin and Freeview to show its movie channels to ensure competition between tv networks. Another reason for Cameron to want to castrate Ofcom.