Wednesday 17 June 2009

Digital Britain: Guardian's damning verdict 'it's a big bland policy stew'

A Guardian leader lays into the Digital Britain report today describing it as a "big, bland policy stew" and says it offers scant help to the struggling local press.
Among the damning comments are: "this was a publication long on consultation and in many places frustratingly short on conclusion."
It says: "With less than a year to go before the next general election, here was Gordon Brown's big chance to mould a communications industry in its greatest flux in living memory; to use extra investment in media to help get Britain out of recession - and even to flesh out his much-fabled policy of industrial activism. Each of those goals was missed."
The leader continues: "Much of the blame for this big, bland policy stew must lie with the tight deadlines the government set itself to deal with so many complicated issues" and adds: "None of this can have been helped by the imminent departure of Lord Carter, nor by a reshuffle which saw a vast and complex subject dumped into the lap of a new minister."
The report is dismissed as "not wildly imaginative. It deals with structure and delivery of content, rather than the content itself."
On the local press it says: "Meanwhile, struggling local newspapers [declaration of interest: the Guardian Media Group includes local titles] are offered scant help. The idea of the licence fee supporting local news remains contentious. But subsidies should fund something better than breathless bulletins from neighbourhood fires; they should fund deeper forms of democratic engagement and information."
The leader concludes: "Framing media policy amid a severe advertising recession and a big shift in the industry would always be aiming at several targets at once. Unsurprisingly, yesterday's attempt missed. It did not so much resolve questions as pose them - and park them for another day."

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