LSE Media think tank POLIS today welcomed the publication of the Government's Digital Britain report, but called for more radical steps to protect public service media in the UK.
It warned that government has to set universal 2Mb/s broadband infrastructure as a minimum and allow for the possibility of government action if the private sector does not deliver.
It also said that the review should take a more radical approach to ensure the provision of public service content.
Charlie Beckett, Director of POLIS said: 'The Government is grasping the nettle of the major media reforms that need to take place; not only to bring Britain into the Digital Age, but to ensure that our world leading public service broadcasters are not destroyed by digital competition. Today's interim report outlines some possible steps that need to be taken to ensure that there will still be public service competition for the BBC and that sufficient quality domestic content - including local and national news - will continue to be produced.
'Ofcom set out the options for public service broadcasters last week. But the way forward is really a matter for Government. Channel Four clearly requires major surgery if it is to survive the transition to digital and we have to welcome the fact that the Government is considering radical options. The challenge now is to ensure that the interests of viewers, listeners and users in the UK - not those of the powerful media companies or the Government - are at the heart of the debate about solutions.'
Dr Damian Tambini, LSE said: 'Digital Britain could have been more radical - for example by establishing immediately a pilot Public Service Content Commission to prefigure the proposed new Public Service Content Company ' - and we have to hope that they are ready to do so at the earliest opportunity.
'BBC Worldwide has long underperformed in marketing BBC content abroad for the benefit of licence fee payers. We welcome the move to enable it to act for other UK content producers. However, we are concerned that any new entity has a clear public service remit, and that innovative new models of delivery of public service content - rather than new models of advertising - are at the heart of the new system.'
For more information contact LSE press office on 020 7955 7060 or Charlie Beckett on 07808 786573. Both he and Damian Tambini are available for interview.
Charlie Beckett is Director of Polis and author of SuperMedia: Saving Journalism So It Can Save The World (Blackwell 2008)
Dr Damian Tambini, is a senior lecturer in the Media and Communications Department at the LSE and author of a Polis report: What Is Financial Journalism For?
Polis published a report into the future of International Coverage on UK Public Service Broadcasting this month: The Great Global Switch-Off
POLIS is the media and society think-tank at the London School of Economics and the London College of Communication
www.polismedia.org The Director's blog is at www.charliebeckett.org
29 January 2009