Digital Britain has new minister in driving seat

Stephen Timms, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, is understood to be taking on to the role of Minister for Communications to help drive the implementation of the government’s Digital Britain report.

Stephen Timms
Stephen Timms

Part of his remit will see him push the 50p-a-month levy on phone lines proposed to fund its universal broadband plans.

He will bring a Digital Economy bill before parliament in the autumn.

Timms is expected to work across the Treasury and Lord Mandelson’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, according to reports.

His appointment follows concern that the departure of the current communications minister Lord Carter, who led the Digital Britain report, would see the report lose momentum.

Other proposals in Digital Britain, released in June, include measures designed to curb illegal downloads of music, TV and films.

It also set 2015 as the date for the intended upgrade of all national radio stations from analogue to digital.

But critics have been quick to take aim at the report, saying it had not going far enough, while also failing to put forward a plan for the proposed tie-up between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide.

However, since then BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith has said that a deal with Channel 4 is imminent.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has also accused the government’s £6-a-year levy on phone lines as “slapping” on an extra tax is an “old economy solution to a new economy problem”.

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