Culture Secretary commits to digital industry support

The creative industries are the “biggest single economic opportunity the UK has,” according to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport.

Speaking at the Navigate Digital Q&A event at Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) yesterday (2 September), Hunt stressed the government’s commitment to helping businesses exploit the opportunity provided by the internet and provide superfast broadband across the country by 2015.

“Our creative industry are the biggest single economic opportunity the county has at the moment,” he said. “When you start to look at what have [in terms of adverting, film, TV creation and exporting] we are probably the second best country in the world at the creation of digital content.”

Hunt said the web gives the UK “an extraordinary opportunity as a country, as the internet is internet is effectively the opening of a new global trade route.”

He cited web-connected TVs as the next major milestone for online creativity, but said the potential will only be fulfilled if the infrastructure is in place to deliver high-speed broadband nationwide.

“If we want to maintain our lead as the country where all the most exciting advertising innovations are happening, then we need to have a superfast broadband network that is able to cope,” he said. “We need to get this right, so we’ve made it our objective for Britain to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015.”

“If we are going to allow our creative industries to expand we will need speeds to improve,” he added.

The Government is also conscious the UK has a London-centric media, restricting local media’s influence, said Hunt. He said there is an opportunity, therefore, for the UK to become the first country in the world to develop the next generation of truly cross-platform local media oppportunities.

“I have got rid of the cross-media ownership rule at regional and locals levels, making it possible for newspapers to own local television franchises and radio stations,” he said. “We need a model whereby local media operators can follow their consumers wherever they go – from web to iPods to iPads to TV to radio – and we need to allow business models to emerge around this.”

Responding to questions from a select audience that included Google UK country director for agencies Mark Howe, Channel 4 head of new media Errol Baran and IAB chairman Richard Eyre, Hunt once again placed his support behind the ASA’s extension of the CAP code to brand websites ad social media.

He also spoke of the need for serial entrepreneurs in the UK, especially within the creative industries.

“I would like to have a generation of more gutsy entrepreneurs in this country,” he said.

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