Digital Economy Bill - Committee (4th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:30 pm on 8th February 2017.

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Photo of Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 8:30 pm, 8th February 2017

My Lords, I support my noble friend Lady Benjamin. It is clearly of paramount importance that our children have access to British-made television content. As I mentioned before when talking about the electronic programme guide—and I am afraid the Minister will have to appreciate that the issue is not going away—easy access is important. As my noble friend said, children need to see programmes that reflect their lives and our diverse, vibrant nation. It is my experience that children do actually watch television, certainly the ones I know. That is one reason why they love their step-grandmother, because she encourages it. Importantly, as my noble friend mentioned, flexibility is built into this amendment. It includes consultation with Ofcom about how it should be implemented in practice and around genres. It is important that this sector is not just left for the BBC to carry.

The Minister recently responded to a Liberal Democrat debate on the importance of the creative industries. That is another reason why the children’s independent television sector should be encouraged. We have only to look at the Harry Potter films to see what the children’s market can contribute to our economy and to Britain’s soft power. Let us support this sector and unlock its great potential and, in particular, not break my noble friend’s heart.