Digital Economy Bill [ Lords]

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 6:50 pm on 6th April 2010.

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Photo of Siôn Simon Siôn Simon Labour, Birmingham, Erdington 6:50 pm, 6th April 2010

This Bill is not about cutting people off from the internet. There is a very long process for that, which takes at least a year-probably more, in fact. People get letter after letter, then there are two appeals, the second of which is to a judicial tribunal. It is very unlikely that anybody will be cut off as a result of this legislation. If they are cut off, they will be the most recidivistic and unreasonable people who, frankly, deserve to be cut off. Millions of ordinary people who are currently doing something that is unlawful will stop because a new mechanism will educate and inform them about this thing they are doing that they should not be doing.

This is a big Bill and I do not want to talk only about that issue, which has become very controversial. It is also very important to touch on the provisions to do with public service broadcasting. Mr. Foster is no longer in his place, but he mentioned the changes to the Channel 4 remit. I agree with everything he said. Currently, only core channel linear content counts towards Channel 4's public service remit, but this Bill changes that. Under the current remit, Film4 commissioning "Slumdog Millionaire" did not count, and neither did E4 commissioning "Skins". The new remit gives Channel 4 an obligation to commission and acquire original British film. That is incredibly important for the British film industry. It gives Channel 4 an obligation to operate in the digital sphere, which is obviously important, and it gives it obligations with respect to commissioning content for older children-something in which we have a great history but where we are lagging sadly behind at present.

The radio provisions are one of the best examples of the Carter success. From a starting point of great knowledge and expertise, he took a position and plotted a course to drive it forward. I think that digital switchover for radio will happen by 2015, and I think it will happen as successfully and relatively painlessly as-touch wood-the transition to digital television is happening and has already happened.

As for video, in respect of the Bill's embracing of the pan-European game information-PEGI-standards, it is important that we in this House and the Government recognise more than ever that the video games industry is already very important to our national economy. Given the right support and value, it can be a fundamental driver of economic growth in this country over the next couple of decades. We have already done a lot through measures such as the tax incentives in the Budget, and a lot of work and investment has gone into skills and the research and development of video games. This measure in the Bill is widely welcomed as well, but we need to do more and keep driving things forward because other countries are driving harder and harder every month.

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