The main theme emerging from today’s discussion at the Westminster Media Forum is the government should embrace the idea of a globally connected internet when considering the Communications Bill.
Sarah Hunter, Google’s head of UK Public Policy, said the green paper should encompass wider policy in the UK, rather than just the Bill itself.
The government cannot make policy for the media industries without considering the wider impact on other industries that need the internet to survive.
It would be very dangerous if they went down that road.
Hunter said the most important thing to bear in mind for the future was to “bring back computer science” – building on the UK’s historical strength of bringing together creative and scientific talent and employing engineers to advise on future policy.
John Tate, director of policy and strategy at the BBC, spoke of a “competition for quality”, and how broadcasters should meet audience expectations in a converged world.
Tate also referred to Rupert Murdoch’s bid to takeover all of BSkyB, quipping: “BSkyB’s recent announcement is very welcome.”
“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – we’re very flattered.”
BSkyB’s director of policy David Wheeldon was also on the panel, he responded to Tate by saying “it’s nice to hear the BBC being complimentary about us for once”, to polite laughter from attendees.
Wheeldon oultined his four major concerns for the Bill as being a flexible copyright regime, online piracy, finding the correct balance between infrastructure and content incentives, and finally recognising emerging platforms.
In particular he earmarked piracy as a significant threat for the broadcast industry to monetise content.
This afternoon the forum will hear from Ivan Lewis MP, who earlier this year wrote to Jeremy Hunt regarding News Corporation’s acquisition of BSkyB.