Will focus on TV, content, radio spectrum, copyright and ratings systems to bring UK tech law into the 21st century.
The Government is holding a series of policy seminars to determine the outlook of its proposed Communications review, an overhaul of the nations existing laws to bring them up to date with modern technology.
Media and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that the Government will look to introduce a new Communications Bill by the end of this parliament, with a white paper to be published in early 2013.
Ministers Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey
Hunt says the goal is to ensure the UK has a world-beating communications sector, as part of its ambition to be Europe’s tech hub.
"The UK’s communications sector is one of the strongest in the world. We must ensure the sector can grow by being at the forefront of new developments in the industry," he said.
"It is essential that we set the right conditions for the industry to enable businesses to grasp the opportunities created by new technology."
The Government published an open letter in May last year asking for submissions on what parts of communication law need to be given focus, although Hunt believes there is no need for a complete overhaul.
The impetus is to protect a significant part of the arts and culture economy, bringing it into line with 21st century technologies and standards.
"The communications industry is a key part of our economy. We have the largest independent television production sector in the world while the UK is the second largest music exporter in the world," said Communications Minister Ed Vaizey.
"We are the only country in the world with five public sector broadcasters and we spend more per person on e-commerce than any other major economy."
It will also incorporate the ongoing work on digital copyright, which was headed by Professor Ian Hargreaves. Dr Hargreaves believes that the implementation of a Digital Copyright Exchange could boost the UK economy by as much as £2bn (see CBR’s story here)
Any focus on content regulation will not occur until after Lord Justice Leveson completes his enquiry into police and press conduct in the wake of the phone hacking scandal. This is expected to conclude in July, with a full report in Autumn.
Whether Hunt is around when the bill comes to fruition is another matter, as he has been dogged by allegations he was too close to News Corp, one of the chief defendants.
The Government has also made the decision to review the ratings system, with an eye to enforcing more stringent measures on ‘inappropriate content’ featured in video games, music videos and even online and outdoor advertising.
This will hopefully not see a repeat of some of the embarrassing censorship measures that have dogged UK governments in the past, such as banning Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the hysterical censorship of all things ninja-related in the 90s.
The Ministers stated that the Government will shortly publish a series of policy papers outlining the key questions each seminar will consider.