Purnell gets tough on media

Recently appointed culture secretary James Purnell is setting up a thinktank to investigate media regulation. It is understood he wants to reinforce to regulators such as Ofcom that the Government has ultimate responsibility for media policy decisions.

Purnell announced the launch of the thinktank during a speech at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge yesterday (Thursday). It will include senior figures from within and outside government and has been devised with business secretary John Hutton.

He told the television industry that it “needs to get its house in order” after scandals around phone-in competitions and said the 9pm watershed was irrelevant in the digital age.

The move has been prompted by the rapid pace of change across the media and telecoms sectors, with the rise of mobile phone ownership and increase in broadband connection. Changes in the landscape are likely to render the 2003 Communications Act outdated by the time the analogue signal is switched off in 2012. Public consultations and other findings from the thinktank are likely to be used to create a new act.

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