Media Damaged By ‘Dithering Government’

(Reuters) – THE GOVERNMENT’S DITHERING and cowardly leadership, and its reliance on review after review, has damaged the media sector, a Conservative minister said today.

Speaking at a Royal Television Society conference and on his website, the shadow minister for media, Jeremy Hunt, hammered the government’s shambolic handling of a host of issues such as the use of product placement and the use of the licence fee.

Hunt, who as part of the Conservative party is expected to win an election held by next year, said the government through a host of different media ministers had acted in a cowardly manner.

‘The government’s approach to the media sector has been nothing short of a complete and utter shambles,’ he said, in quotes on his website released for the conference.

‘It is hard to find a sector that has suffered from so much dithering, so many U-turns and such a relentless conveyor belt of reviews and consultations that have ultimately led nowhere.

‘This isn’t leadership and it certainly isn’t governing. It is management consultancy gone mad and dithering at its worst.’

Media regulator Ofcom has held 9 television consultations this year.

After initially rejecting the idea of allowing product placement on commercial television, the new media secretary Ben Bradshaw indicated on Wednesday that he would support it, and introduced a new review.

‘Product placement is the latest example,’ Hunt said. ‘The last Culture Secretary launched a consultation by ruling it out. Yesterday, less than a year after this consultation closed, Ben Bradshaw launched another one. By ruling it in.

‘If ever you needed evidence of a cowardly government who simply cannot make a decision then this is it.’

The government has also appeared to change its mind on how to counter online piracy; whether to disconnect offenders from the Internet or not; and it has also questioned how the public broadcaster the BBC should be managed.

Bradshaw, a former BBC journalist who took over the media role in June, sparked the latest escalating row with the corporation on Wednesday by saying the broadcaster may need new regulation and should not be allowed to grow any larger.

Both Hunt and the BBC Director General Mark Thompson asked what it meant for the future, if a minister could consider scrapping a body his government had launched just three years earlier.

‘The trouble with independent governing bodies is that they can be independent,’ Thompson said in a speech.

‘To threaten them with imminent or creeping abolition when they take a different view from you is not in keeping with the tradition of political independence on which the whole of British public service broadcasting is based.’

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