Media watchdog shakeup put back to autumn

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Internet piracy and other media regulation issues are to be addressed in the forthcoming communications green paper
Internet piracy and other media regulation issues are to be addressed in the forthcoming communications green paper

Government proposals to shake up the regulation of the internet and other media will be delayed until the autumn because of the controversy engulfing Jeremy Hunt, according to reports.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport's communications green paper is believed to be essentially written and was slated for release this spring.

The huge political row surrounding Mr Hunt's handling of the BSkyB takeover bid has meant the secretary of state has requested its publication be put back, however.

It is expected to cover a huge range of issues including public service broadcasting, internet piracy and the operation of the telecoms industry.


The green paper is now not expected to be released in full until after the party conference season concludes in October, the Telegraph newspaper reported.

That could have implications for the Leveson inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press, which is expected to deliver its final conclusions in October.

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said the delay showed Mr Hunt was now a "lame duck".

"His errors in the handling of the Murdoch bid, his misleading of parliament and his clear breaches of the Ministerial Code are undermining his department and delaying important policy-making for the media and creative industry," she commented.

"David Cameron should sack him."

Mr Hunt's proposals will have echoes of the News Corp bid because of the consequences of the decisions he takes for other big players in the media business like VirginMedia, ITV and mobile companies like O2.

The green paper will eventually lead to legislation being passed in the 2014/15 parliament, although that timetable could be disrupted. Draft legislation is supposed to be completed by mid-2013.

The review of the communications sector's regulatory framework is designed to "strip away unnecessary red tape and remove barriers to growth", according to DCMS.

It stated on its website when launching its consultation: "The wider public interest will underpin the way we address these issues."

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