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Britain's media obsession

Robert Peston | 08:51 UK time, Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The minister for communications, technology and broadcasting sees his White Paper on "Digital Britain" as a possibly unique event in the history of British government.

Lord CarterBrainy, personable Lord Carter views the report he has written (and it is a surprisingly personal evaluation) as an attempt to promote a particular industrial sector, the media and digital technology sector - which the government estimates contributes around 8% of our national output, our GDP.

Its rareness is that he can't recall any previous White Papers that were focused exclusively on the needs of a particular sector.

In a technical sense, he may be right - although successive government reviews of the UK's competitiveness have agonised over the perceived weakness of British manufacturing, and there have been endless studies of how to promote financial services and the City of London.

So on the day that Carter's conclusions are published, one question is why the digital industries are more deserving of ministerial attention than - say - pharmaceuticals, or defence, or motor manufacturing, or food and drink, or civil aviation.

If you work in those industries, you may think "thank goodness ministers aren't meddling with us".

But you might also be a bit miffed that the government doesn't seem to think that what you do is as important to the UK's prosperity as what those flashy boys and girls do in advertising, TV, telecoms, chip-making and so on.

That said, Carter's White Paper will in practice do a great deal more than endeavour to promote the needs of a bunch of companies perceived to be particularly important to Britain's longer-term prosperity.

Because, of course, the development of the so-called digital economy - especially the internet - has implications for the competitiveness of all our companies, for the skills of British people, for the healthiness of our cultural life, and for democracy.

The big point is that the broadband network is an important public utility - though perhaps the prime minister over-egged it this morning (surely not) when he wrote in the Times that "a fast internet connection is now seen by most of the public as an essential service, as indispensable as electricity, gas and water".

It will be fascinating to see how Carter reconciles his desire to provide a benign terrain for the commercial players in the digital industries with the imperative of correcting market failures, so that uncommercial but vital public needs are met.

In no particular order of importance these public goods include:

• access to a fast connection for the 2.5m or so people who currently have no such access (and not just households, but broadband-deprived businesses too);

• diverse sources of regional and local news, that are not unimportant to the prospects for local democracy;

• a feast of public-service programmes provided through a variety of channels and "platforms" (not just those provided by my employer, I suppose).

There are tensions between the commercial interests of companies and the cultural and social priorities of the nation. It would be naïve to pretend otherwise.

How Carter and the government choose to reconcile those tensions matters to most of us.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    The 2.5M that do not have access to broadband presumably refers to the lack of infrastructure available and not to the estimated 30% who for whatever reason do not use the Internet - the emergence of the digital divide and there is no mention in the press or your blog about what if anything should be done about it. It is easy to overate the value of the Internet whilst accepting it is a key to democracy, education, entertainment and commerce.

    However it is an interesting angle you have on why so much emphasis on this sector. Perhaps more deserving of government intervention/pump-priming is the renewable energy and energy conservation industries. That would get my priority.

  • Comment number 3.

    Fast Broadband is an essential utility but millions of us have no hope of achieving it without Government intervention of some kind. Here in darkest Hampshire there is no likelihood of any change anytime soon.
    Simply asking ISP's to invest will not do the trick- for once Gordon please intervene with a purpose!

  • Comment number 4.

    How does 'media and digital technology' get to be an economic sector at all? Media is a totally different business from 'digital technology' - how much does the BBC have in common with Intel.

    Not that it matters because every time the government decides to help industry it just spends money on more timewasting pencil pushers. If they shut down every single quango and fired every single government official charged with supporting industry I doubt anyone would notice. When it comes right down to it they dont spend any money on industry anyway (unlike the Germans, French, Japanese, Koreans, Chinese.....).

  • Comment number 5.

    "a fast internet connection is now seen by most of the public as an essential service, as indispensable as electricity, gas and water"

    Conclusive proof that the Prime Minister is living on another planet.

  • Comment number 6.

    Unique??. Hang on, what about the Hunt Report (1982) and the Information Technology Advisory Panel?:

  • Comment number 7.


    No No NO, please dont ask Brooon to intervene in anything ? His track record is that the more he gets involved the more it costs US and the less success we have. The Labour mantra is !

  • Comment number 8.

    The internet has now become so important.
    It has changed many industries....
    Share dealing
    Online retail.
    But the most surprising thing about the internet must surely be its' effect on POLITICS.
    Did anyone foresee that?
    "Instant public opinion".
    Who needs referendums, surveys or questionaires?
    It's there for all to see.
    Look what is happening in Iran.
    The internet is changing the politics of the world.
    Trying to keep a secret?.....forget it.
    Politicians may need training in "how to ignore the internet".
    This blog by Robert and press blogs give us the opportunity to whinge and cry forth about things that bother us.
    That has only been possible since Dot-com arrived.
    Even the habit of reading is bad thing.
    Perhaps in 30 years time the "House of Commons" will just be a web-site.

  • Comment number 9.

    The problem with the rest of us who 'do' have broadband, is how to get away from the screen!
    But, it has been an invaluable tool for our small company, and the availability of instant look-up for data, news etc is priceless. I have just arranged for a pallet to go to Eire, all done online and one phone call to confirm. Never dealt with the transport company before, didn't know about them until I looked on the net this morning.
    We first got involved in computers in 1982, and that was before internet access. We are in our 60's now, but find a fair bit of resistance amongst the elderly as they cannot grasp it at one sitting. That is what stops a lot of them getting online, fear of the unknown.

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't know. I see echoes of the old Dot Com boom about all this. Given that so much of the money in the TV and music sector has stemmed from the sale of licenses and that now trying to protect Intellectual property is like trying to stop the tide with a teaspoon, I just can't see the digital boom as being as lucrative as everyone seems to think.

    The government would be better off looking at the legal frameworks for Intellectual Property, and de-regulating rather than re-regulating the digital sector to allow a million micro-economies to flourish.

  • Comment number 11.

    The BBC receives approximately £3.6 billion of public money which might explain, Robert, the Government's view that the sector is "deserving of ministerial attention"!!! Interestingly, it is exceedingly hard to find any mention of the licence fee income figure on any of the BBC's web pages.

  • Comment number 12.

    Broadband is just another way for big brother to control you. As a software engineer, even I will be compelled to turn my connection off soon.

    Have you seen what they are planning for the internet? This is an unauthorised thought process, we will turn your food supply off as punishment.

    Coming to a democracy near you

  • Comment number 13.

    Being a little cynical has it occurred to anyone that Brown and his lot see this as an important "propaganda" distribution channel. While the internet is key to today's business world, there are times that I have this nagging issue with the way that, the media in particular, are able to very quickly manipulate information in the public domain. The BBC for example have become experts -- releasing some information but overlooking equally important news stories that may contradict their own stance on a particular issue.
    To me the internet is a critical part of today's business world but does "twitter" or "facebook" have the same priority ? More "nice to have" rather than "need to have".
    Brown in his article in The Times states "Just as the bridges, roads and railways built in the 19th century were the foundations of the Industrial Revolution" -- what his government over the past 12 years have overlooked is maintaining and expanding the UKs basic infrastructure. Compared to the likes of France or Germany the UKs transport system is just that -- still in the 19th century.
    Bottom line perhaps we need some sense of priority and balance between public spending on old techonogy as well as the new.
    Finally I believe that the "internet" has thrived because it is private sector driven and has not been a government initiative. Let's hope it stays that way. If Brown and his cronies get involved it is doomed !

  • Comment number 14.

    I fear Mr Peston and many other journalists, are simply missing the point - this is not about boosting the prospects of the media and technology sector. It is remarkable to me that our Government has singled-out broadband and internet access as a fundamental human right when they spend considerable time and effort undermining and making illegal "classic" rights that generations of people have fought for. Admittedly, I am quite an extreme cynic, but what better way to monitor every interaction with any official body (and restrict that access) when households, families and individuals are all inextricably tied to individual accounts? Now I see why they want us to have ID cards - it's just another method of control.

  • Comment number 15.

    if the goverment realy thinks that it needs a "benign terrain for the commercial players in the digital industries" then the broadband network needs to be treeted like roads or powerlines and needs to under the control of a gov agency or a not for profit company if we are going to have a monaply it it better to be a gov monopoly

  • Comment number 16.

    Broadband is the next industrial revolution - canals, rail, motorways/air, broadband. What you see now is only the beginning.

    But, in the same way that an antiquated infrastructure stopped us from reaching the pinnacle of the rail revolution, old copper wires on the end of wooden poles are stopping this revolution before it really gets going.

    While we lazily think of broadband as synonymous with BT (and it's decrepit infrastructure), we won't get far in the UK.

    And while other bloggers regard broadband as synonymous with the Internet they will miss the revolution too - it's the convergence of TV, radio, media, information, etc. But giving the user control of what, how and when they consume or generate it.

    In business, it can metaphorically knock holes in the brick walls and physical distances that separate sites and companies. It will lead to new ways of inter-company working.

    In the space of 2 years the BBC iplayer has revolutionised TV consumption for a chunk of the population.

    For what it is worth, I'll put money on the convergence of broadband with the mobile network. Expensive copper wire strung on expensive dead trees maintained by an army of expensive engineers is not the future.

  • Comment number 17.

    Give BT the tax breaks so that they can get fiber to the green boxes, but tax breaks only available if 100% coverage in 5years. Also force BT to place a green box withing 4km of all properties so EVERY one has the chance of between 5mb and 50mb depending on their distance from the green box.

    Allow the regulater to set cross company charges for ADSL from the green boxes to the houses but at a rate that its is viable to install (unlike the POST office who have to deliver UKMails letters from the sorting office to the door at a 2p LOSS).

  • Comment number 18.

    As Robert points out, the internet will change everything, including democracy, economics and knowledge ...

    Democracy, politics, economics and media will be just as 'disrupted' as much as enterprises etc have been (, Amazon, eBay, Skype, Google ...), and media is just starting to feel the strain (e.g. ITV) too ...

    Democracy and politics will have to change too (though it will be heavily resisted by some!) ... for example take a look below at how it will impact on democracy in 21st century nations ...

    'New technology, such as the internet, is creating a 21st century platform for democracy where everyone can communicate/see what is happening, express their views/concerns, suggest ideas for improvement and have their say on the priorities/changes needed. Other Governments are already starting to do this, and gaining trust (and ideas) as a result.

    More referendums should take place and representation should be based on ability and a true representation (e.g. more proportional representation). Representatives should also reflect, and be continually answerable to, a robust, representative and independent sample of the community they serve. One person should not be given complete responsibility (on election day) to represent 100,000s of people every day for five years, whilst not being continually accountable to those they are supposed to serve.

    Democracy should happen Every Day, not just Election Day and Trust will not be restored without it.'

    If you'd like the UK to be a 21st century nation, make your voice heard by signing the 10 Downing Street e-Petition entitled People Democracy - found at , as 'Evil flourishes whilst good men do nothing'.

    The PM has promised electoral reform, but at the moment he is looking at whatever keeps labour MP's in 'Power' at the next election ... not necessarily what's best for the country!

  • Comment number 19.

    #5. At 09:40am on 16 Jun 2009, englandrise wrote:
    "a fast internet connection is now seen by most of the public as an essential service, as indispensable as electricity, gas and water"

    Conclusive proof that the Prime Minister is living on another planet.

    Im assuming that you live in a town and never had a problem getting broadband!

    In rural areas two nabouring houses one might get 8mb and the other 2400kb just because their phone lines travel different routes. Or enither can get it as they are on a shaired line (yes they still exist).

    As for G3 mobil broad band, i live 20min drive from the m25 and can not get ANY G3 signal for the first 15min.

    Yes there are 20% of the population how will never want internet conections but for the rest broadband is indispensable.

  • Comment number 20.

    Brown's article in The Times about broadband being as essential as water, gas and electricity has certainly "electrified" readers judging by all the comments sent in:

    He is being slaghtered!

  • Comment number 21.

    Robert, the report isn't just about media!

    This is what it's about:

    Digital technology isn't a sector at all; it is common to all sectors. Without embracing digital technology to the full, we will cease to survive as a nation; it is that simple.

    Believe it or not, digital technology has been used and developed for the last half-century. Things were being done then in some sectors which haven't even arrived elsewhere yet.

    It's about time that they did.

  • Comment number 22.

    Please dont let G.Brown intervine or all that will happen is every one in scotland will get 100mb fiber to the door free and the rest of us will pay for it.

    One rule for the scots one for the rest of the UK.

  • Comment number 23.

    Second thoughts,

    can you ask G.Brown to intervine on the Number 10 pitition site, I still cannot get it to send me the email so that i can sign the call for a election or the call for him to resign.

    Both pititions never send me the acknolagment email, where as the one calling for him to stay still sends out the email straight away.

    I wonder why?

  • Comment number 24.

    Not sure if people realise that phone/broadband/internet/mobile/TV all go hand in hand. You can't grow one sector without the others.

    Not much can be done unless OfCom gets its act together. Serious government investment is required to give UK plc a stronghold but I don't see much of that happening.

    What happened to the billions that were generated from 3G licensing?

    Now they want to share around some of the BBC license fee... wonder if it is to ensure that the BBC comes down to the level of Channel 4 rather than the other way round.

  • Comment number 25.

    This ridiculous pandering to the so-called 'digital economy' is tiresome. Like children with a shiny new toy, we are all so doey-eyed in wonder at the possibilities, that we fail to see the realities. Additional digital TV channels? Big deal! Most of them are full of complete tat, repeats and reality TV shows. Decent regional TV shows? What a joke! I live in Kent and half the news on my 'local' news station is from Brighton and Dorset! Why? Because the money available to make good, informative TV and news shows has been stretched so far that it can't provide coverage and the programs are not fit for purpose. Like the mentally obese society we have become, we have gorged so much on quantity that we don't see how much of it is utter junk. The Internet, far from being a digital playground we can all enjoy, has become a dark shadowy ghetto full of sleaze and crime. Where there is no control, chaos reigns, and nothing good can flourish. You can't compare these digital services to the essential services of water, sewage, gas or electricity. Those services are genuine and vital. The digital 'services' are cheap and frilly extras that we could easily do without.

    I've got a degree in IT and even I'm sick and tired of hearing about how digital technology will revolutionise our schools and enrich our lives. It hasn't and it won't, because we don't harness it properly. Like the ignorant teenager who spends hundreds on a new computer, only to use it to play games and look at YouTube, we are in danger of throwing money away by using technology pointlessly. Media is just ONE possible application for digital technology. It is not the ONLY application, nor is even an important one. It doesn't make us anything, it doesn't feed us, clothe us, or even educate us properly. Yet it's the only application anyone in this country knows about or cares about. It gets all the coverage, all the money, all the kudos. We are being blinded by the glitz and failing to notice our real industries are leaking away to the East. One day, we'll wake up and find the cupboards bare, and only then will we realise that you can't eat in cyberspace.

  • Comment number 26.

    "a fast internet connection is now seen by most of the public as an essential service, as indispensable as electricity, gas and water"

    So, why have we sold most of our "essential services" to foreign companies?

  • Comment number 27.

    There is another difference Robert. The utilities are self-funding - yet Gordon wants to use taxpayer's money to subsidise a commercial service. A service which will be totally out of date in a few years as wireless broadband takes over - as out of date as landlines are now in an age of mobiles.
    This smacks of self-interest - I know one of Gordon's brothers works for EDF - are they planning to take over BT or does he have another brother/friend/party funder in mind?

  • Comment number 28.

    Not content with taking lots of money off us to pay for the BBC, Lord Carter is now happy to give it to commercial broadcasters whose commercial acumen is failing or business model flawed and to help them "develop as a truly global player". Surely not what we should be paying for with our licence fee?

  • Comment number 29.

    9 listerdiesel - presumably you wouldn't have had the wherewithal to sort a pallet out before the Internet came along?

    Much is made of the Internet and most may well be true, but to say that Fear of the Unknown is the driving force behind those who don't use is not true..... it is still possible to choose not to use the Internet and get on with life.

    I'm not so sure how much value it adds to my life and the lives of those around me...

    ..... yes I buy things via it from anonymous warehouses that employ a lot less people than the shops I used to visit, presumably what I save will eventually be taken in tax to help support the people who used to staff the shops.... in the same way that the efficiencies my bank have made by off-shoring jobs will be offset by the rise in tax to cover the benefits of those made redundant....

    ... it gives me choices in what news I can access, so like most I choose to subscribe to sites that reflect my preconceived opinions ....... I could go on

    I opened my first online store in 1998 and still trade online, it is a great tool.... but it is certainly not comparable to my gas, electricity or water.....

    It has a lot to offer, but there will be consequences.....

  • Comment number 30.

    The digital age is vitally important to the future of the UK - we're already at a state where we're looking hard at what we, as a country, actually export.

    And the answer used to be banking.

    Thing is, it'd cost something like 28bn to put fiber optics to every household in the country. That's not actually very much in the grand scheme of things. But what it would enable is a truly amazing level of communications.

    Such a backbone would enable ... well amongst other things online education - Open University pioneer the idea, but there's other places that do it.

    Now imagine how the country might be if _everyone_ had access to all the course content they were interested in? Maybe even to the point of paying a scholarship stipend (as you'll see in e.g. Denmark). That'll make it actually worth the time to go and learn more with your free time, rather than slobbing in front of big brother drinking a lager.

    Or indeed, if you're currently unemployed would give you something to do that prepares you to return to work, and tops up your job seekers allowance.

    But by doing so, you rapidly increase the _average_ education level in the country - far better than splitting the country into 'boffins' and 'proles' you'd have a lot of people educated and able to appreciate ... well, everything.

    You could quite literally turn the UK PLC into UK.EDU (or should that be ''?) and then... well, our Universities do provide education to foreign students - by having more capacity, we can deliver more. By having more educated people, we can have more and more courses available. And these are things we could sell internationally, using our impressive technological infrastructure.

    That's alongside the benefits of Universities in industry - having the largest university in the world would have massive benefits for research, engineering and design industries, which are exactly the kind of businesses we should be trying to attract.

  • Comment number 31.

    Over-egging...very funny Robert. Guess who else "over-egged" this precise news in exactly the same way...?

  • Comment number 32.

    The notion and need for Universal Broadband is good. But most of what is written appears to be about how our media and telephone operators are going to survive the internet rather than fully embrace it.

    The 'Internet' represents 24x7 connectivity for a great many non-billable events. Yet the entire legacy of BT and Virgin and the Mobiles is based on capturing and charging for billable events. By inclination they will keep our broadband access best effort and confined to ensure the longevity of their legacy services.

    The £95 pm each household pays for Mobile/Fixed/Broadand and TV/Radio needs redistributing and its not on services but on connectivity.

    Ofcom defines markets and even auctions spectrum and within these definitions companies extract money from punters, in effect creating scarcity where there is none.

    The incumbents, including the edifice of Ofcom, fear the internet and this report I fear will permit the media companies and the ISP/Phone companies to limit our potential by protecting their legacy businesses, rather than exploiting fully the the revolution that we are all touching and experiencing.

  • Comment number 33.

    Carter is a labour yes man stuck in the management theories of the past. Economies of scale and oligopoly from the days of tea ladies, typewriters and landlines are his mantra. The only value of his reviews is an indication of what we should avoid doing.

  • Comment number 34.

    Of course this government will have an interest in control the media is a major step towards controlling the population...and we know how this government likes to control...

    Imagine a situation in a few years when almost every transaction or communication has to be via the internet....we already know the government is making moves towards a state whereby it will have access to all those communications.

    As to the TV Tax ( lets call it by its correct name ).....lets abolish it. If the BBC offers a service people want, they will pay for it. If the BBC offers a service the government wants, let it pay for it.

  • Comment number 35.


    It time you gave yourself a good shake with your anti Scottish agenda. For the record, if it were not for the many votes Labour achieved down south at the last election, they would not have got in.

    And dont kid yourself on we in Scotland are treated any better, I remember those wonderful days under thatcher when she treated us like guinea pigs with the poll tax!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    Robert talks about the internet changing everything, but doesn't mention one of the most important areas: the world of work. With the digital network envisaged, millions of office workers will be able to do most, if not all, of their work from home. Not only does this have massive social and environmental benefits, but it also has a major impact on productivity and costs.

    The current organisational overhead for white collar workers is roughly double their salary. With a distributed virtual workforce, organisational overheads can be slashed. Once the government gets its head round it, this is an area where billions of pounds will be saved. The privave sector likewise. Look out for this major revolution in work, enabled by the digital highway and driven by economic and environmental needs.

  • Comment number 37.

    As an aside I found out why we cannot get broadband and it relates to sanctions in the then Rhodesia.
    No copper so aluminium was used for our lines- and guess what it doesnt work as well.
    It would cost BT big money to upgrade therefore it aint going to happen.

  • Comment number 38.

    Here we go again. Reading these blogs. Government is controlling us here, there and everywhere, including our thoughts. Has it never occured to any of those posters that if that is the case the government is doing an extremely bad job of it.
    If you were just a few voices shouting against the crowd, with Labour having about 70% of the vote, I would say there was a problem. But everybody is against them.
    The best example I have experienced in my life in this country of the state in total control was during the Thatcher years. That was the model with the government backed up by all the main media outlets. She fell when they withdrew their support in the late 80's. That was scary. You do not need to know what people are looking at on the internet to control them.
    The fact is we are controlled and manipulated in our ideas and lifestyles. There are organisation that know a frightening amount about us, and it is not the government.

  • Comment number 39.

    Media obsessed? No the media, politicians and media consumers are. Increasingly alienation of more and more sections of society from the media means that joutrnalists have to "shout louder" by making ever more extreme statements to gain attention. Eventually even you will realise that you really don't matter and that debates like this are irrelevent as is the content of any government bill this tiny island produces on a topic like this (market demand will drive need and requirement without any Government intervention). It gets well meaning politicians assuming that media interest equals importance thats why we have a media obsessed minority who like gibbons hoot at each other in the tree tops whilst the common man stand there alternating looking surprised when it "goes off" over his head or ignoring it. Ah well never mind I think I've joined the troop of media gibbons. Please ignore this blog and prove my argument.

  • Comment number 40.

    Wake up to the future.. this matters.
    The digital age is not just about you lot in the media or driven by flashy boys and girls, this revolutionary period involves innovative British people of all ages.
    Take note of this titled Minster name, he is a rare beast with vision and bang on target when he said that "a fast internet connection is now seen by most of the public as an essential service, as indispensable as electricity, gas and water".
    We can cope without electricity by moving office, store gas and water, but i cannot run my expanding marketing business without high speed broadband. Fast internet connection is the lifeblood of a multitude of new growing businesses enterprises.
    The digital age is Britain future.
    Manufacturing has gone overseas and not coming back, banking not looking like expanding any time soon, food and drink fairly static, arms unfortunately always needed. Tourism has huge growth potential, but requires root and reform to bring it into the digital age.
    Unlike all of the above... the digital age offers growth in all sorts of creative industries, some probably not thought of yet.

  • Comment number 41.

    The report states that the success of our manufacturing and services industries will increasingly be defined by their ability to use and develop digital technologies.

    This is of course true but the big question is why then did neither the Govt nor the Financial Services Sector ensure that the UK became a major player in the technology sector...... Where are our Alcatels, Nokias, HPs and so on and so forth?

    The fact is that every darn time this useless Govt comes up with an initiative like this it generally provides opportunities for overseas companies and not indigenous ones.... It's time this was challenged.

  • Comment number 42.

    The media is responsible for most of our problems. e.g. failure of Bradford & Bingley for one. Will I ever get my money back re the Bond I bought just before the collapse.? No income either it would seem. At 81 I was dependent on this to help prop up my diminishing returns on Savings.

  • Comment number 43.


    Post 17 - great idea, sensible stuff.

    Post 19 - did you leave your PC alone with your evil twin?

    Cut off the electricity = anarchy within days
    Cut off the water supply = anarchy within days
    Cut off the broadband = we'd get by.

  • Comment number 44.

    I've got electricity, I've got mains water, I've got slow Internet access. I've not got gas and I've not got mains drainage. I can get fast Internet at work or at a local library, so I'm not sure of the priority here.

    I would rather have fewer, better channels of TV.

  • Comment number 45.

    To compare the internet to a supply of clean, fresh water on tap just shows how far priorities have become distorted.

    Without a supply of clean water our civilisation would collapse. Without the internet we would go to the library and the cinema. Some would argue that without the internet our lives would actually be better as we would once again develop a communal consciousness.

    The fascinating thing is that the taxpayer now seems to be expected to subsidise the bureaucrats, the banks and the media. So who will subsidise the taxpayer? Who will create all the value to fund all this folderol when all our factories are being closed?

    It is strange how all these very gifted, highly salaried, expensed and bonussed individuals all require support from the disregarded and the ill-rewarded. The entire thing is a racket and it is time the British people confronted their rulers and made them redundant without compensation.

  • Comment number 46.

    I agree completely with 36

    However we need to have not only a technological change but also a shift in the way that work is looked upon. At the moment, home working is a possibility in many organisations (existing broadband speeds are sufficient for quite a lot of applications) however there is often the view that if someone isn't in the office then they aren't working. Once we can get around the issue of having to manage by viewing "bums on seats" there is a significant socio and environmental impact of home working. Think of the reduction in the traffic as whole elements of commerce are conducted from home (rush hour will be significantly reduced for one - our overburdened transport systems are one of the major hindrances in our country). The move to Cloud computing (and our necessity to embrace that at all levels of business from the Gov't downwards) will hopefully make a lot of office space redundant and allow us to increase our price competitiveness (we are never going to be low-cost salaries) on an international scale.

  • Comment number 47.

    A laudable attempt to wake up and smell today's commercial coffee!

    However, the Government has still missed the real issue of today. SME's are being given a slow death by the continued lack of credit from banks and financial service companies, after the Government bail out. As SME's employ over 95% of UK adults outside the public sector employees, and create the most wealth proportionately to the UK GDP, then is it beyond the wit of Government to get this sorted out NOW! Without credit, the UK is an engine starved of oil.

  • Comment number 48.

    And for all you "big brother" conspiracy theorists....
    How long is it going to be before there is a high-definition public webcam looking down every street in the country?
    (Linked to a computer in a house, and permanently switched on.)
    The police will have 24 hour surveillance of every street, and within seconds of a call from the public, can zoom in on that street.
    Good or bad? I don't know.
    But this is not far away.
    These new webcams are cheap, tiny and un-noticeable, with incredible quality, can see clearly anywhere there is street lighting, and can be fixed with one screw on any house eves, and bingo....big brother has arrived.
    The system to run it is already in is called broadband internet.
    Perhaps that is why the government is so keen to expand broadband coverage.

  • Comment number 49.

    As usual, the Internet was a brilliant thing when Berners-Lee and ARPA put it all together, however as with all brilliant things it will become an area of conflict as the Capitalists attempt to flog it to death to make money out of it - aided and abetted by corrupt Governments around the world.

    "There are tensions between the commercial interests of companies and the cultural and social priorities of the nation"

    Understatement of the year.

    The people want to use it for what it was designed, free and available information. The Capitalists want to section off areas so they are 'pay only', or prevent the free sharing of music by draconian big brother monitors. By creating scarcity of an abundant product they can then engage in their cartels and monopolisation of product in order to hold us all to ransom.

    Fortunately the people already understand the internet better than the capitalist as it is a tool of the future and not of the past. The new freedom fighters of the world are hackers, the DOS attacks by (allegedly) Russia and China are the new terrorists, the new protestors are online and the open source community are the new hippies and Anarchists. The Internet is a true model of 'living without rule' proving it work. There is no need for an internet policeman, not now and not ever.

    The clashes will come when the virtual world (controlled by the people) is attacked by the real world (controlled by the Capitalist classes) as they struggle to gain control by claiming to 'protect us'. We have already seen the backlashes against the Pirate bay sentences, or the uproar about ISP's snooping on downloads. Exaggerated claims of pornography, piracy and peadofillic grooming are grossly exaggerated in order to scare people into accepting controls.

    These will be the wars of the future.

    Want to see the future of the internet? Check out a young persons page on Facebook - total information access. It scares the willies out of adults who cling to privacy like a safety blanket and they cannot understand this new way of revealing yourself to the world. I have to admit I was uneasy about it at first, but then I realised that total freedom of information will eradicate the profit made from information witheld - as it will already be known. The man (or woman) who sold the expenses information to the Telegraph will simply not exist in the new world.

    This is not Britains MEDIA obsession, but Britains INFORMATION obsession, and it's bigger than Britain, it's a worldwide phenomenon.

    The truth shall set us free.

  • Comment number 50.

    "There are tensions between the commercial interests of companies and the cultural and social priorities of the nation. It would be naïve to pretend otherwise."

    They will be resolved as always, in the interest of the companies.

  • Comment number 51.

    #32 Mikes Blogs comments caught my eye.... I do think that much 'internet and it's impact' discussion tends towards the area he highlight....

    Premise for debate : 'But what's going to happen to BT, ITV, the Beeb, Johnston Press, News International, et al...??'

    It's the cart before the horse; the internet wasn't set up to protect legacy companies, or allow them timne to transfer 'offline' or analogue business models online.

    (Nor --in the same sense---was it set up to provide musicians with a fixed cash reward based on 'What musicians could earn in ...say...1984 rebased to 2009'.... free downloads are theft translates as I am stuck in the past and can't work out new business models to provide reward without trying to stick last century control freakery.... why not earn more money from tours, than selling CDs (or downloads) ... will admission tickets to live Gigs be free if all downloads are paid for??)

    Of course it wasn't set up at all...but Tim Berners-Lee deciding NOT to 'patent' or 'license it...but allowing it his work to non-commercially florish (although he hasn't been totally poverty stricken since; which is encouraging ) provides an telling illustration of 'how the internet can work'--in a completely different model to the old, offline, analogue, centrally controlled,monolithic almost communist era in a sense; media structure that we have been used to.

    Newspaper groups and Tv companies may not survive but 'local democracy and local journalism will'.... enterprising old media companies might 'migrate their offline communities, and capture new demographics online' but most won't....however their names will live on probably; a bit like those old lawyers and accountants firms who just add the new company's main name to the letterhead after a takeover or merger; until it all gets to unwieldy and they go for a string of letters or an acronymn

    New journalism will probably involve more giving guidance to viewers(The 'reading screens' era will rapidly pass) on the citizen type journalism they are seeing...not 'owning' that journalism in the old fashioned way (The Hudson river plane crash that broke on Twitter and went round the world before the first old style pro-journalist arrived puffing at the scene points the way)

    And finally..... While the BBC in it's analogue, public service , old style is undoubtedly a 'good thing' , as the government subsidised, tax funded leviathan offering 'free content everywhere' it has done too much harm to formerly entrepreneurial journalism in the UK.... you can't sell web-based journalism in this country in particular because of the presence of the BBC, so where we once lead the world in journalism we now lag behind other countries...

    Sorting out and preserving the 'good BBC' and pruning the 'enterprise crushing' bad BBC is a major problem that the government may have quite a vested interest in not solving....

    Probably too much to get into one comment, all that....but that's convergence for you...digitisation is collapsing many previously distinct industries and businesses..into one (anyone watched a radio show broadcast about free internet music via a mobile phone or laptop computer screen??)

    The absolutely last thing we need is a government waddling around picking winners amongst their business mates...but that's what we'll get probably; then Chinese style Internet tracking and controls to stop us all going 'over the wall'...Only joking--they know where I live!

  • Comment number 52.

    The internet is a vehicle for so many activities, that many people relate to it only in those few aspects in which they have direct experience.

    The benefit I've not seen mentioned is its value as the planetary knowledge base. This enables education for all ages, provided you know what questions to ask. What UK people add to it's content is mostly viewable worldwide and vice versa. This is accelerating both knowledge and understanding at all levels, especially now that mobile devices allow access in many countries without a broadband network. School homework is routinely submitted online and most kids can type faster than my GP!

    It is a key influencer of change. Working from home saved me (and hundreds of colleagues) at least 12h a week personal commuting time, saving fuel and train costs. This reflects the internet's value as the definitive communication tool. Rather than everyone phoning their local council with the same question, and then paying for the extra staff to man the phones, one internet page covers all you need to know - and you don't have to post a letter, so huge amounts of paper (and postage) costs are saved every year.

    Remember when earlier governments used to talk about having increased leisure time? Remember when the only way you could meet a potential friend or partner was a hit-and-miss process in the local pub or dance hall? Online dating and social network sites like Facebook allow hundreds of millions of people to connect worldwide; this has revolutionised lives - especially for those who cannot afford to travel. Likewise, massively-multi-player online games like Warcraft (16+million subscribers of all ages) enables social interaction that only used to take place if a group of people happened to live near each other.

    Buying things online continues to support UK manufacturers. I buy the specific things I want from UK suppliers at the best available price, and without paying to travel or spending hours trying to find a shop that stocks them. If I buy second hand on ebay, then there is no VAT - and I pay quite enough of that already! Countless small businesses now do business with remote customers who would otherwise never have known of the supplier's existence. Small businesses are key drivers in the economy, especially in their local economies.

    I no longer need buy a newspaper to be told what I should think, I use the internet to get the facts and then form my own opinion.

    In due course you'll know where your kids are because their mobile will send a GPS signal that you can monitor on your PC/handheld. Likewise, also your stolen car. James Bond in Goldfinger used to look high tech, soon we all will. Water and electricty have only one dimension, the internet is vastly more useful and should be a right for all.

  • Comment number 53.


    I don't know what you're on about. In what way has the internet possibly changed the Online Retail industry? There is absolutely no link between the internet and online retailing whatsoever.

  • Comment number 54.

    @49 - thanks Morpheus!

    As for some of the comments - so the virus/trojan/worms that some of these hackers produce are a form of attempting to generate freedom of information?

    As for opensource - I'm all for it! However you will find that a hell of a lot of opensource (hippy, freedom loving, information sharing) companies also attempt to gain money from the internet - after all the developers need to earn some money somehow!

    The digitalisation of services means a completely different model of business (as you mentioned for music - money can come from live performances for example) - the business model will lead to an average price point of zero - it just needs businesses to adapt to cope with the new business models.

    Surely in the model of the information age the goverment still has a role to play. The infrastructure that we operate all of this from should be government controlled (like, for example, the road network in the UK) as well as the supply of education (how to avoid those nasty trojans, how to utilise the web and protection of the "web vulnerable") and finally business support (education and support in moving business on-line and the establishment of home working and the social side of things)

    I agree we don't need a regulated web (although there used to be the comment that we didn't need a regulated financial sector so lets revisit this in 10 years)

  • Comment number 55.

    Re 53 KingDouglasD

    I meant that high street retailing has been badly affected by sales of the same goods on the internet.
    You and my missus have the same opinion as to my blogging skills.
    But that list on post 8 is really can get everything on the web from a bag of frozen peas to a new friend or husband.

  • Comment number 56.

    53# KingDouglasD
    "In what way has the internet possibly changed the Online Retail industry? There is absolutely no link between the internet and online retailing whatsoever".
    No Link!
    The internet gave birth to online retailing.

  • Comment number 57.

    And this business that downloading music is theft.
    Well it may be theft, but it is nothing new.
    30 years ago, how many of us would press the "record" button when "Pick of the Pops" came on FM Radio 2 on Sunday afternoon?
    Half the population had the top 20 on tape.
    But I agree that music rights should be protected on all public access sites.

  • Comment number 58.

    56, LOL You missed his point completely :-)

  • Comment number 59.

    This is the technology and infrastructure of the future, the new roads, rail, communication and energy control system of 21st century. We gave up rail lead to French and Germany railways, our roads are congested and slow. We sold our Nuclear power to France and are way behind Germany and other countries on Solar, Wind and tidal power. Asia is way ahead of us in wireless and fibre speed networks. Lets hope our leaders realise and grasp this opportunity, these are 10-20 year investment decisions that have to be made now, otherwise the UK is on a ever downward spiral of productivity, jobs and wealth

  • Comment number 60.

    Just a thought Borwn rasied over 20 BILLION selling off the 3G air waves and in 2010-11 he is hoping for 5-8Billion when he steals the OLD analog TV frequancies from the current licence holders and puts them up for auction to the highest bidder.

    Perhaps he can invest this money on broadband infostructure.

    But I suppose his probably spent it already...

    Where has all the money gone....

  • Comment number 61.

    Phew, where to start? This has certainly got the emotions running.
    1st - get off BT's back especially if you were for or benefitted from the breaking of its monoply (oh no another argument set off). BT was privatised and so fell into that arena of having to make money for shareholders. Why should they maintain and improve the network at their cost and no one elses? If you wanted to start a business then you would expect the set up costs so why not other telecomms companies.
    The internet is useful, fun, a pain and possibly a danger (hackers, govt monitoring, virus's, etc) but it is not essential - yet. I do order online but I am getting more wary as I wonder who has access to my data and whether the anti virus & firewall s/w is really protecting me.
    The other danger is that of reliance. I can use the web for many things but I don't rely on it. In other words I can shop elsewhere or use a library for info gathering, etc. I know its not the internet but as an example our doctor's surgery was in chaos the other day because the 'system' had gone down. No backup system, no paper based facility, no doctors service. Say no more.
    I agree with previous comments about the removal of quangos and consultants from the govt and divert the funds to better use, perhaps towards a better telecomms infrastructure. I live in Hampshire and even though I'm no more than a mile form the local exchange the internet speeds are at best variable. As for mobile well forget it. Whatever network and we've used O2, Vodafone and Orange, the performance is poor and I would never want to rely on it for my web access and we won't even start on the security side on that one.
    My biggest down is that with all the issues we've had recently - recession, unemployment, MPs expenses, etc I'm not hearing any voices that are saying it's time to change. That's not just this govt but whole way we rely on consummerism, the power of huge multinationals, always having to make a greater profit, the continuance of the me, me, me, I want it now culture. A society where we applaud cheaper goods & services because of outsourcing or off-shoring but where those who have no job are completely forgotten about. A society where the fate of 'talent' contests rate higher than the future well being of a nation.
    Come on Mr or Mrs Messiah make yourself known and show us the path out of this mess.
    Apologies that it bacame a bit of a rant but again it serves to show that most issues today are linked and cannot be treated in isolation.

  • Comment number 62.

    And the internet is the first media that is genuinely TWO-WAY.
    We've had newspapers for centuries, and broadcasters for about 80 years.
    But now we don't have to just sit there and swallow their opinions...we have genuine right of reply.
    And I wonder if, in the future, we will hold general elections on-line.
    You could check every Ward and Constituency, and see if your vote has been counted (although not who you voted for).
    Truly open democracy? No fiddling, no mistakes.
    It might work. Secret ballot?

  • Comment number 63.

    Horned_Devil #54
    Some of your comments:-

    "after all the developers need to earn some money somehow"

    I write open source code, I don't do it for the money (obviously as it's unpaid), I do it for the joy of creation and the status I receive. Sadly I understand that some people cannot think past their paycheck for inspiration but that's more to do with the setup of society ratther than peoples natural instincts.

    "As for some of the comments - so the virus/trojan/worms that some of these hackers produce are a form of attempting to generate freedom of information?"

    I have been operating without a firewall (but monitoring my ports) for 5 years straight now - never been hacked, never had my details copied and only ever had one person 'snooping'. Why? because hackers only go for the locked gates - there is no challenge in open doors, and they assume there is nothing behind. It's people who go to great lengths to protect their privacy who are most at risk. I worked for a while in IT security in a blue chip company and they were under constant attack.
    I agree trojans and virus's are slightly different but generally viruses are produced by the companies who make anti-virus software (which is why they find fixes so quickly) and the vast majority are harmless. All breaches of security actually occuAgain it's a well used technique to make you think you are under attack constantly so you agree to the forthcoming controls - and as good sheep most people go along with it.

    Your points about needing Government are interesting, but I disagree. Lets take the protection of the innocent on the internet (a very worthy cause) - many IT companies have tried to invent software which does this in order to make money from it, however the best and most successful solutions come from people directly affected by the issue who just want to solve the problem - I believe there is an application out there which actually spots naked pictures (i.e. porn) on pages and automatically blanks them out (it's very clever) - what was the author's motivation for writing such a programme? To protect his own children, not for financial gain. The internet is unique in that it allows many remote participants to work on a single project and genuinely share the workload in a true divison of labour - unlike the current divison of labour which simply alienates the workforce from the finished product. There is also the ability to cut out the middle man and ensure that developers get paid the full value of the development preventing the slice being taken by a non-producing participant in the process.

    I'm glad to hear you agree there is no need for a regulated web - as you have probably experienced most blogs regulate themselves. We're all seen when someone starts with something socially unacceptable they are often curtailed by the other bloggers for their extreme views. We can actualy establish what people are REALLY interested in (unlike TV which simply gurgutates whatever the programme makers think we want to see) - the public actually likes nice things (Susan Boyle singing for the first time, the wedding dance, the techno viking) and not constant images of death, war, deceit and horror (which is the underlying theme of most TV broadcasts).

  • Comment number 64.

    We have far too much alternative/virtual reality as it is.

    There were some good lines on this in 'The Believer'.

    Which group isn't much good a making things other than make-believe and trouble? Is that not why Islam gets so twitchy?

  • Comment number 65.


    I hope you don't consider 'marketing' tat as a 'creative industry'.

  • Comment number 66.

    I see that Martha Lane Fox is being appointed as the digital champion to encourage broadband takeup..... I'd forgotten all about her. Wonder if she's a pal of Lord Sugar?

  • Comment number 67.


    I assume that your opensource development is part-time/hobby? Otherwise how do you pay the bills? I also work in opensource and it is possible to make money without compromising opensource principles (eg training courses around your product, maintenance contracts for certain "heavy users" (eg those that require the fix there and then rather than waiting for the next patch/update). In that way you charge 10% of your customers (who are willing to pay) and allow the other 90% to get the product for free - hence my comment about the digital media/information model having an effective price point of zero (for most customers) and yet still allowing a business to operate as a genuine going concern.

    As a developer you are obviously savy enough to set-up your systems to avoid most of the potential pitfalls - but do we expect ALL web users to be able to operate like you do? I'm not advocating flogging anti-virus software here (can't stand the stuff because of what it does to my machine) but I am advocating education to allow the general populace to use the web safely. I am also advocating that the web should be fast and efficient for all users - as I believe these are in the public interest I would have thought that the government would be the best placed to be responsible for this (as it should be looking after the elements that are in the common interest). The government does play a part in areas which effect the majority of the public but I agree that they can't regulate.

  • Comment number 68.

    writigsonthewall (#63) "Sadly I understand that some people cannot think past their paycheck for inspiration but that's more to do with the setup of society ratther than peoples natural instincts."

    How do you know that? You've just mae that up haven't you? Are you a part time warlock? ;-)

    How do you they don't do that because they're not very bright genetically? How do you know they can't plan ahead for this reason, and that it's part of not being very bright? This matters economically, because if you were right, it would be worth putting resources into training. But you're not right, and it isn't.

    When people grasp this more clearly, they will not be so tolerant of lax border control either. In fact, they'll get angry about quite a lot that is going on and demand more regulation!

  • Comment number 69.

    Why can't all music sites and video sites pay music royalties?
    They must make plenty of money through advertising.
    Many sites know exactly how many site hits a particular artist or song has had.
    Or perhaps a music royalty charge should be levied through the internet service provider.
    The ISP knows if you are using the internet to download or listen to music.

  • Comment number 70.

    Was it this Lord Carter who famously said, when he was named as part of a class action by NTL shareholders, "What I tell them is nine-tenths bullshit and one-tenth selected facts.

  • Comment number 71.

    Addendum (#68) Actually, maybe they won't. Whichever bunch of anarchists gets in next year will probably do something very liberal like lower the voting age to 14 promising them sex via broadband or something equally venal. new member of the MPC, Dr. Posen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He's well connected then.

  • Comment number 72.

    You get spoiled with good quality broadband, when I take my laptop over to my parent's house in the wilds of Northumberland I have to use the wondrous T-Mobile 'dongle' (or USB Modem to be correct). Pages take minutes to load and you can forget about downloading anything at all. It really makes you wonder what all the fuss about this new fangled internet thingy is. Back in the technological wonderland of Newcastle Upon Tyne I'm back to 500kbs/sec downloads and pages crammed with interactive content that load in a split second. I think if you've never experienced high speed internet access then G Brown's comment will be meaningless, if you're lucky enough to have a great bradband connection though, you can see what he's getting at..

  • Comment number 73.

    A few questions:

    1. Has liberalisation failed to deliver a competitive and efficient market for the development of a modern broadband access network?

    2. If it has, is the taxpayer being asked to pay twice; once through higher costs and secondly through higher taxes?

    3. The broadband infrastructure we will pay twice for; where will it be sourced from, surely not China?

  • Comment number 74.

    The Government requires all school children to have an e-portfolio through a Learning Platform by 2012. As they will be expected to retrieve and post homework on it families will need a fast reliable inexpensive connection for this. They also expect that parents will be able to communicate with schools and teachers on a regular basis to check on their child's daily attendance, behaviour, academic progress etc also necessitating similar access. Children are already doing fantastic things on their SCHOOL sites (not unregulated commercial sites) and they are already leading the way in their own learning in this. Here in London all maintained schools have a dedicated network which is very fast and these children will demand the same from ISPs when they mature. This has to be the future.

  • Comment number 75.

    Carter is way off with his stats. Last week Sainsbury claimed it served 88% of population. Not my relatives in Scotland; 140 miles to nearest store. Same with broadband stats. Dial-up or ADSL 500 at its best for them. In Japan recently 50 Mps was deemed "slow". Canada has everyone connected so it seems.
    Even if BT had the money to lay fibre optic everywhere, where will it find enough technicians to hook it up? Not Poland again?
    A Brown pipe dream.

  • Comment number 76.

    52. At 2:19pm on 16 Jun 2009, The Grand Aether-Marshal, The Count Herodotus Semillius von Angstrom wrote:

    Wow!...what a pseudonymn!

  • Comment number 77.

    25 Lippolippo- great post. you are exactly right

  • Comment number 78.

    Lord Carter must be 'brainy'...even Paxo paid 'good comment' to this real 'human being'.

  • Comment number 79.

    I am surprised that no one has seen a few obvious big black holes in this paper:

    1) BT a private company should have done this years ago.
    2) BT couldnt because the UK government made billions off 3G liecenses - which bascially crippled BT because the revenue never appeared.
    3) Due to the lack of foresight and the complete ineptitude of the behalf of BT's management this policy is very late - who were not so long ago declaring that 2mb connections were sufficient for everyone. At the same time some of our foriegn competitors have 100mb links.
    4) The BT privatisation has been a failure, both for BT and by the actions of Ofcom. Heads should role.
    5) Public tax money will now go into building a network which private companies will use to charge the public for a service and make profits on ?
    6) Who will own that network ? That will be those paying into the scheme, otherwise why are they paying at all ?
    7) I have never heard of any investor that did not get tangible assets in return - or in other words shares. Each tax payer should specifically get shares, NOT government.
    8) Given that "Quantative Easing" is supposed to be revitalising our economy isnt this one of the OBVIOUS INVESTMENTS that should be undertaken ? My god REAL ASSETS !
    9) Taking money from the BBC liecense fee into Private companies precludes people want that service. If it is mandatory then those private companies must yield ownership of those services receiving the funds to the public - NOT the government.
    10) Any reduction of the BBC liecense fee can only be seen as a means to reduce the value of what is a publicly funded and therefore publicly owned service - totally funded seperately from the government. If the government wish to do this then they must BUY the right to do so from the public who own it. If the public even want to sell it in the first place. (Seems to me that this is just another attempt to move the BBC from public to private hands - hands off, no way, we have paid for it, we own it.)

    No real surprises here, its just another way of getting public taxes and public assets into the hands of private companies because the stock market/financial system doesnt work.

  • Comment number 80.

    #36 Michael Wolf

    "Robert talks about the internet changing everything, but doesn't mention one of the most important areas: the world of work. With the digital network envisaged, millions of office workers will be able to do most, if not all, of their work from home."

    Yeah I agree it would,,, BUT.

    Just think about all those highly taxed shiny office buildings that would now be empty. Think about all those shiny cars not consuming feul. Think about all those shiny cars and trains that are no longer needed. Think about all those stores that rely on those shiny office workers.

    Regardless of the jobs that would be lost from the stores and restaurants,,, it means a reduction in tax revenue. Which in turn means that the government will seek to regain their tax revenue, so you've guessed it - they'll tax your work internet connection to quite a hefty sum.

  • Comment number 81.

    #25 LippyLippy

    I cant agree more that IT does nothing other than service reality and there is no doubt that productive industry should always be the key player. However entertainment/media also needs IT.

    IT is only productive on it's own when sold on - but of course there has to be a customer.

    There is no doubt that the group which are set to make the biggest gain from an enhanced broadband is the media, that includes all papers, TV, Film, Music, advertisers, product manufacturers and of course the government themselves.

    Wouldnt it be right and proper for the people who are actually going to make money out of the network to fund it rather than those who are going to have to pay for the services ?

    Have we really been trained by the Media and Government for so long that we just role over and die - taking another in a long, long line of spin and missrepresentation as the truth. As someone earlier pointed out we'll end up paying twice - once laying the network and once again to get the services on the network. No doubt we will be told we dont own the network either after we've paid for it !

  • Comment number 82.

    Morning Robert,
    a couple of comments on this report.
    Does anyone remember the last time a Government was involved with providing digital access for private companies? Most of the roads, streets and pavements in my area were dug up by contractors to lay cable and then not repaired properly. We still have to live with this because there is no money to repair the damage done.
    Let's dig them all up again shall we?
    A decision was made to go digital for TV (not in any manifesto that I'm aware of) just on the whim of Government. Who benefits from this decision? Not me. I've now access to a couple of hundred channels but I only watch about half a dozen with the rest being superfluous to my needs. Also, has any thought been given by the brainy Lord mentioned to deal with the mountain of millions of redundant analogue TV sets which will be discarded between now and 2012?
    As usual, this Government is long on ideas but short on implementation strategies, costs and consequences.

  • Comment number 83.

    bring on the digital thats what I say.Also to the people who see the bnp as a danger,say what you like, the amount of fiddling going on in this country is incredible,bankers, mps no doubt most of the media, the whole lot should be shipped to a toxic island somewhere.Theres no way on earth id ever vote for lab, tories, or the libs, bring on the bnp and sort out this fiddling cheating culture we have now.

  • Comment number 84.

    Can anyone tell me of a single UK company that MANUFACTURES in the UK, any EQUIPMENT that forms part of ANY UK broadband network? Since the demise of Marconi I can't think of one. The main issues here are really; cost to the service providers, together with a lack of any applications that will fund that expense. We are talking billions and there's nothing new to pay for this. I don't want the bill to go on my personal tax each year....

  • Comment number 85.

    I live a jumbo's rumble from Gatwick Airport yet at present:
    Freeview tv regularly glitches during programmes, even on channels 1 - 5,
    There is no way of getting local TV programmes, only London programmes are available,
    There is no DAB radio signal at all, so the only way of getting digital radio is through the freeview box and TV.
    Quite often there is no mobile phone signal in my house.
    And now they are proposing tax on fixed phone lines!

  • Comment number 86.

    This puts the Carter report into perspective. Indeed, Singapore is a small island state of 5 million-ish. The gist is, the UK is going backwards - in every sense of the word!

  • Comment number 87.

    Exactly. At the heart of government is a complete lack of understanding of where the internet is taking us. A paradigm shift in business structure as great as that from master/serf to capitalist/worker is upon us. It means the end of giant cities, of much mass production, of mass PAYE.

    The new paradigm already has traction. We are only 6-7 years away from those business' and economies for which it is the norm, rocketing to success and wealth. The legal and physical infrastructure must be put in place now.

    We need to get a lead on this. We are a small country with a huge debt. If we get left behind we may never recover. The world owes us nothing, and after what our banks did to their pension funds, they'd happily do without us.

  • Comment number 88.

    fearlessrick (#70) "Was it this Lord Carter who famously said, when he was named as part of a class action by NTL shareholders, "What I tell them is nine-tenths bullshit and one-tenth selected facts."

    It's very depressing if any of this is true. A grown up 'terrible-two'?

    They get away with all sorts. c.f. NPD/ASPD.

  • Comment number 89.

    Yes broadband is becoming essential to most of us but not all of us want it. So to pay for it why charge people on their telephone rental?

    For Gawd's Sake tax the people who want it through their ISP.

  • Comment number 90.

    8. At 09:48am on 16 Jun 2009, stevewo wrote:
    The internet has now become so important.
    It has changed many industries....
    Share dealing
    Online retail.

    None of those things are important to me. Not in relation to the internet, anyway. It's been hijacked by marketing people. A tasteless, useless facade of advertising hoardings. All about shopping.

  • Comment number 91.

    The internet is just the current means to access the computers that form the www.
    It's an e-commerce enabler and a hacker/spammers paradise
    It neither makes nor manunfactures anything, its just a tool.
    I we don't get back to making things we will end up mortgaged to the Chinese in just the same as the bankrupt United States has become.


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