Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

Digital Economy Bill included in Queen’s Speech

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Today’s Queen’s Speech has, as expected, encompassed a Digital Economy Bill the purpose of which has been outlined as follows:

Gives media regulator Ofcom the duty to assess the UK’s communications infrastructure every two years. Updates regulations to make the digital radio switchover possible by 2015. Makes age ratings compulsory on all video games designed for children aged 12 and above. Promises to tackle infringement of copyright more effectively. Updates regulations for Channel 4, so it has to put public service content on its websites. Extends to whole UK.

Further reportage is available on the BBC here.

The proposed new duty on Ofcom to assess the state of the UK’s communications infrastructure every two years is particularly welcome. This should lead to a more timely, and direct, consideration of the state of infrastructure and whether regulatory policies are achieving, or otherwise supportive of, society’s aims for its communications infrastructure.

Nevertheless, we are also very keen to see that Ofcom gains a duty to take account of the impact of its regulatory decisions on investment, as a new statutory duty alongside the existing one to promote competition in its approach to regulation. This was trailed in Digital Britain, and would be a huge advance in correcting a traditional, and failing, regulatory over-reliance on competition and the market to deliver the infrastructure required, but is not yet directly apparent in the published content of the Bill. This would be a regretful omission.

The Bill is due to be published on Friday and, if not before, further details should then be available.

[Edit 20 November. Fears unfounded – see post above]

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Written by Calvin

18/11/2009 at 1:55 pm

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