Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Lord Wood of Anfield Lord Wood of Anfield Labour 7:00 pm, 8th February 2017

My Lords, we have had various contributions across the House of excellent quality. We have the noble Lord, Lord Low, and the noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, talking about children’s content; the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, and my noble friend Lord Hain talking about Welsh language provision; various comments about innovation and the future from the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter, and my noble friend Lord Puttnam.

For the sake of brevity, I will respond to the Minister directly. I am slightly confused by the logic of the Minister’s response. Either electronic programming guides work in pointing people towards PSB—and the general view is that they are absolutely crucial for audience share in traditional TV—or they do not. I find it difficult to know why the logic that has traditionally held for intervention to ensure that PSB content paid for by the public has pointers towards it should no longer apply in an age when viewing habits are changing. I totally accept that it is more complicated, but I do not understand why we should throw our hands up and say, “People will find good content”, when up to now, with linear TV, we have taken great strides to ensure that people are pointed towards the content that is funded by licence fee payers. I find that discrepancy between the two worlds quite baffling.

Secondly, it is not a new set of regulations that noble Lords are asking for; it is updating the existing set of regulations—which has pretty much worked okay, with the exception of children’s TV and a few other areas—into a new age. That will require some imagination and collaboration and thinking, but it is not ripping up everything and starting again that it is being asked for. So I am disappointed that the Minister has closed the door on thinking this through further. I will definitely think more about what to do and where to take this, but for the moment I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 226A withdrawn.

Clauses 81 to 84 agreed.