- Government Unveils Action Plan for the Digital Economy
- Digital Economy central to industrial strength and competitiveness
- Communications Infrastructure critical for future economic growth
The Digital Britain White Paper, published today sets out the importance of the Digital Economy to the nation’s economic future, and how it will drive future industrial capability and competitiveness.
- Download the Digital Britain Report
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It comprehensively makes the case that the United Kingdom’s communications infrastructure and increased Digital Participation are key to building a 21st century knowledge economy, and must be considered essential objectives if we are to become world-leaders, and reap the benefits of this rapidly transforming sector.
The Prime Minister said:
“Digital Britain is about giving the country the tools to succeed and lead the way in the economy of the future.
This report shows how we will ensure we have a world-class digital and communications infrastructure, that we promote and protect talent and innovation in our creative industries, that we modernise our TV and radio frameworks and support local news.
Investing in areas such as broadband access for every home and business and the move from analogue to digital technology will bring benefits across the board, driving growth, enabling businesses to thrive, and providing new opportunities and choices for households right across the country. It is an essential part of building Britain’s future.”
Digital Britain measures include:
We are taking steps to strengthen and modernise the UK’s Digital Infrastructure so the UK can compete and lead globally
- Universal access to today’s broadband by 2012, creating equal access for all and a fairer digital future
- A fund for investment in the next generation of superfast broadband to ensure it is available to the whole country, not just some of it
- Digital Radio Upgrade by 2015
- Accelerating current and next generation mobile coverage and services
- Proposed new role for sectoral regulator Ofcom to carry out a full assessment of the UK’s communications infrastructure every two years
We are taking steps to ensure that everyone can share in the benefits of Digital Britain
- Three year National Plan to improve Digital Participation
- Programme of Digital Switchover in public services
- A new Digital Inclusion Champion: Martha Lane Fox
- Revised Digital remit for Channel 4 and key role for BBC
- Guaranteed funding for three years for targeted marketing and outreach
We are taking steps to make the UK one of the world’s main creative capitals
- Robust legal and regulatory framework to combat Digital Piracy
- Digital Test Beds to promote innovation, experimentation and learning around creation and monetization of digital content
- TV Licence Fee: consultation on contained contestability, primarily to secure news in the nations, regions and locally
- A new direction for Channel 4, championing new talent across all digital media
- Guidance note and clarification on the media merger regime and an enhanced evidence role for the regulator in local mergers
- Support for Independently Funded News Consortia
Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson said:
“Britain needs an active industrial policy if we are to maximise the benefits from the digital revolution. We need a clear approach which is fully accessible and provides regulatory certainty, smarter public procurement and a readiness to intervene where necessary. The Digital Britain Report does this by offering a strategic view of the sector, backed by a programme of action. This report will cement the UK’s position as a world leader in the digital and communication industries and ensure Britain is not left behind in the digital revolution.”
Culture Secretary, Ben Bradshaw said:
“Britain’s digital industries are among the most successful in the world and a major part of our economy. We need to make the right decisions now to make sure they continue to grow and prosper. We need to make the most the most of the opportunities today and in the years to come, exploiting the world’s ongoing technological revolution. This report will be key to our economic growth, social inclusiveness and well-being as a nation.”
Stephen A. Carter, Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting, said:
“Digital Britain is a statement of intent and ambition, a commitment to infrastructure and access, and an overdue recognition of the Industrial importance of the Creative Industries
The Digital Economy is a case study in the interdependence of competitive markets, regulation, entrepreneurialism, and a strategic approach from Government”
Digital Britain: The Implementation Process
A summary of the Report’s conclusions is available to download. Some of the decisions require action which will be carried out immediately; some require further consultation or legislation. Chapter 9 of the Report gives further detail on the Implementation Process.
Department for Business Innovation & Skills press enquiries: 020 7215 6403 / www.bis.gov.uk
Department for Culture, Media and Sport press enquiries: 020 7211 6267 / www.culture.gov.uk
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
“Only a Digital Britain can unlock the imagination and creativity that will secure for us and our children the highly skilled jobs of the future… secure the wonders of an information revolution that could transform every part of our lives… enable us to demonstrate the vision and dynamism that we have to shape the future.
Rt Hon. Gordon Brown MP, Prime Minister, at the Digital Britain Summit
This Chapter gives a summary of the Report’s conclusions, the ambition behind the Digital Britain programme and examines the significance of the digital sector. http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/exsumchpt9_digitalbritain-finalreport-jun09.pdf
CHAPTER 2: BEING DIGITAL
“The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential.”
Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive, Microsoft
The Government is determined to address three obstacles to digital inclusion – availability, affordability and capability and has today announced the appointment as Champion for Digital Inclusion of Martha Lane Fox. Together with a supporting Taskforce, she will work to tackle digital exclusion and the economic and social disadvantages it can cause.
With one in 10 households currently unable to access baseline broadband networks, the UK Government’s commitment to deliver universality in today’s broadband services of up to 2Mb/s by 2012 is a significant step which will give access to everyone in the UK.
To get more people using digital services, the Government is:
- appointing a new Digital Inclusion Champion and expert Taskforce
- developing a National Plan for Digital Participation, to increase the extent and scope of digital technology use in all parts of society
- providing guaranteed funding over three years to the new Consortium of Stakeholders for targeted marketing and outreach
- making public service content providers and broadcasters more central to increasing digital participation
- developing a programme of Digital Delivery of Public Services (more in ch
CHAPTER 3(a): A COMPETITIVE DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE
“If Lord Reith was right that the broadcasting system should be a mirror of the nation’s conscience, surely our ambition should be for a broadband system that is the engine of the nation’s mind.”
Lord Carter, CBE
The Report sets out a programme of broadband access and upgrade, in the context of a full review of the national communications infrastructure capability.
The Government welcome the substantial investment and upgrade that is already taking place to build the next generation broadband infrastructure. Market-led investment is set to achieve wide-scale coverage, with superfast coverage likely to be available to two thirds of the population within five years.
However, evidence, analysis and industry consensus shows that, in the absence of some market incentive, around one third of the country is likely to still be excluded by that date. The Government accepts that the case has been made for high-speed, next generation broadband services being made available to the vast majority of the UK population.
To address this:
- the Government will consult on proposals for a Next Generation Fund which will be financed through a 50 pence per month levy on all fixed copper lines
- the Fund would be used to support market expansion to the final third
- Mobile liberalisation
- The last 25 years have seen mobile radio networks transform our lives and businesses. Today’s expansion of data services, in particular mobile broadband, is putting increasing demand on mobile network capacity.
To address this, the Government will:
- reform and liberalise spectrum, following the recommendations of the Independent Spectrum Broker
To ensure the UK’s wireless infrastructure is right for the future, the Government will support:
- the effective transition to next generation, high speed wireless broadband;
- increased wireless coverage across the country for 3G and next generation mobile;
- the extension of reliable coverage throughout the rail network
- the maintenance of a highly competitive mobile market
The Report makes the case that strengthening and modernising the UK’s communications infrastructure is essential to the future economic health of our society, individual security and ability to access information and services. To that end, the Government proposes:
- a new duty on the sectoral regulator, (Ofcom) to carry out a full assessment of the UK’s communications
- infrastructure every two years.
Chapter 3(b) RADIO: GOING DIGITAL
“One must verify or expel his doubts, and convert them into the certainty of Yes or No.”
The Government is proposing a Digital Upgrade timetable for digital radio, to be completed by the end of 2015.
The Digital Upgrade Programme includes:
- a new licensing regime for national radio multiplexes
- a revised regulatory framework for commercial radio
- all national and large stations to stop broadcasting on FM and MW
- a proposal to work with the BBC Trust to ensure extended coverage of its national DAB multiplex so it is comparable to FM
- a five-point plan to support the take-up of digital radio in cars
- a new tier of ultra-local radio, with small local community and commercial stations to occupy the vacated FM spectrum
- greater coordination across Europe on the development of digital radio services
CHAPTER 4: CREATIVE INDUSTRIES IN A DIGITAL AGE
“This is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears: big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen”.
Clay Shirky, Blog Posting April 2009
Britain has an impressive track record in making and selling creative content, and building creative businesses, We have significant international success in marketing services, educational publishing, film, video games, data management, music, publishing, TV and broadcasting. Our creative industries are already a major source of jobs and national wealth, with almost 2 million people in creative employment.
As well as this industrial strength, these industries uniquely underpin our cultural identity.
Britain’s standing as a source of innovation in content and applications is disproportionate to the relative size of our overall economy. The Government wants that to continue. But digital distribution is radically changing the way we watch, listen and use content, which is having a profound impact on the market.
Evidence suggests that most people – given a reasonable choice – prefer to be legal users and buyers. To support this, Government will provide a framework for a legal market in the online sharing and using of content, offering inexpensive, convenient and easily accessible downloads. To tackle the hardcore of users who willfully continue to flout the law, a new, graduated protection regime for rights holders will be introduced.
Key actions to protect creative content include:
- giving Ofcom an explicit duty to significantly reduce unlawful file-sharing
- written warnings for those who download unlawfully, with repeat infringers facing identity release and civil action through the courts
- the Technology Strategy Board will lead and coordinate investment in Next Generation Digital Test Beds and has allocated an initial budget of up to £10- million
- a suite of technical measures, such as bandwidth reduction or protocol blocking, for ISPs to use should
- notification fail to stop unlawful file-sharing
- considering the case for a wider cultural tax relief, based on that currently enjoyed by the film industry, for all
- culturally-specific digital content
CHAPTER 5: PUBLIC SERVICE CONTENT IN DIGITAL BRITAIN
“Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age”.
President Barack Obama
Digital innovation has transformed the opportunities for delivery of a wide range of Public Service Content. Public cultural institutions such as the Tate Gallery or the British Library now reach a far wider audience than ever before. At the same time, there are increasing demands on the commercial broadcasters, who are walking away from traditional public service content obligations.
With the old, advertiser funded model under strain, gaps are emerging in the provision of valued public service content. This reinforces the importance of a strong, confident and independent BBC. It is a gold standard for British media, and the creative engine that allows many of our finest talents to grow. It has shown real strategic vision in its entry to the digital and online world over the last 15 years.
While the Government believes a multi-annual financial settlement is necessary to provide the BBC with operational stability and independence from political intervention, it also believes that the BBC should not be the sole provider of essential public content.
Responding to the changing media market, the BBC has begun to develop its role as a partner with an increasing range of other media and cultural organisations. Potentially the most significant of these is the prospective joint venture between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide.
The Channel 4 Corporation (C4C) has a key role to play in providing a balanced mix of public service content alongside the BBC. It is a major commissioner of independent content, and in 4IP has begun to extend delivery into the online and multimedia world. To enable C4C to continue as a catalyst for innovation in future and build on Next on 4, the Government invites the Board of C4C to respond to its proposals to:
- update the statutory remit of Channel 4 should be updated to include providing public service content, promoting creativity and new talent across all digital media
- make C4C’s remit less television-centric,
and with clear commitments to
- national and international news
- programming for older children and young adults
- original, high quality content, including film, which provides alternative perspectives and reflects Britain’s diversity
- developing content through partnerships with other British cultural organisations
In looking to secure a long-term and stable financial footing for Channel 4, the Government has considered a range of options, including a joint venture between C4 and BBC Worldwide; a merger between C4 and a private sector partner; creating a new commercial entity; and options for a standalone C4.
After detailed examination, the Government has concluded that:
- partnerships of scale between C4C and BBC Worldwide have the potential to deliver significant value to both parties
- it welcomes the discussions between the BBC and C4 on a series a joint ventures including around digital channels, advertising and DVD sales, and are ready to provide the regulatory clearance for such joint ventures, if commercial terms can be agreed.
BBC Worldwide has the potential to become a significant global rights business for Britain and restricting it to a narrow supporting role to the BBC would be a missed opportunity.
Funding for essential pubic service content is facing an acute challenge, with provision of news in the nations, regions and locally under particular threat. Without action, there will be a significant reduction in the range and quality of commercially provided news across all media – TV, radio, newspapers and online.
To address this, the Government will:
- discuss with the BBC Trust whether a portion of the projected underspend in the Digital Switchover Help Scheme could fund a range of pilots to test options for contestable funding for news before 2012
- consult on the idea of a Contained Contestable Element of the Licence Fee, primarily for news. This option would mean that, from 2013 onwards, an element broadly equivalent to the 3.5% currently ring-fenced for the Digital Switchover Help Scheme and communications could be maintained, for the clearly defined purpose of funding news.
Subject to the outcome of this consultation, the Government proposes:
- pilots of Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNCs) should be conducted in Scotland, Wales and one English region to help secure a regional and local stream of multimedia and broadcast news
- these IFNCs could include existing TV news providers, newspaper groups or other newsgathering agencies
IFNCs would be substantially publicly financed, potentially through a Contained Contestable Element of the Licence Fee
- as well as providing cross-media news, IFNCs would provide broadcast news for the existing regional news slots of current Channel 3 Licensees, to maximise audience reach.
The framework for the independent production sector must also be updated for a digital age to support original, high quality independent content across the UK online and on air.
To that end: the BBC’s New Media Rights Framework should be adopted more widely in Government and other public bodies who commission online content
To sustain a content production base in the Nations, the Report recommends that:
- the BBC Trust encourages the BBC to aim to exceed its targets for production in Scotland by 2012, and in Wales and Northern Ireland by 2012
- STV Group plc and UTV Ltd should be given equivalent status to qualifying independent production companies for the purposes of independent production quotas which apply to the BBC, C4, ITV plc and five. The Government proposes to bring forward legislation, following a consultation.
The Office of Fair Trading has conducted a review into the local and regional media sector. It has concluded that:
- the existing merger regime is suitably flexible and evidence-based to respond to changing market conditions and no legislative change is needed; but
- the OFT will amend their guidance to ensure that in cases relating to local and regional newspaper mergers raising prima facie competition issues, the OFT will ask Ofcom to provide a Local Media Assessment
In recognition of the changes from linear television viewing of public service broadcasting since the Communications Act 2003, the Government will discuss with Ofcom:
- how it can take account of wider delivery of public service content in future, and
- whether to amend their statutory obligation to review delivery of public service broadcasting to include the wider delivery of public service content
CHAPTER 6: RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND SKILLS FOR DIGITAL BRITAIN
“…Used well, technology strongly develops the study and learning skills children need now and in the future, including the fundamentals of “e-safety”… We must avoid raising a population divided between ICT “haves” and “have nots” because this would pose a considerable threat to both economic wellbeing and social cohesion…”
Sir Jim Rose
Further growth in the UK’s technology and creative sectors is dependent on research and innovation, and on people with the skills to maximise the opportunities of Digital Britain. There must be continued investment in research to keep pace with technological change and enable new companies to be created. Therefore:
- the Government will invest £120 million over three years through the Digital Economy Programme, in new research and training to prepare the country for the next 20 years of digital evolution
- this includes three new research hubs, to be launched this year with £12 million funding each, to address the core issues facing Digital Britain
The Technology Strategy Board has assigned an initial budget of £30m to advance Digital Britain-related innovation.
For Digital Britain to realise its full potential it needs enough people with the right skills. The Estelle Morris Review of ICT User Skills is published today. The Government welcome the report’s recommendations, which include:
- Clearer progression routes to IT user qualifications;
- Encouraging more provision of training for IT user qualifications;
- Ensuring skills provision underpins the strategy for digital media literacy
- Working towards a basic digital life skills entitlement scheme for all adults without basic ICT skills to:
- Request up to nine hours to cover a core set of online learning modules
- Approach any learning provider in the scheme and receive support to learn the basic skills they need to get online
- Access a single helpline and website with online learning modules and links to a range of free resources
- To maintain a competitive digital economy our education system we must also inspire the next generation of talent. The report sets out how Government and industry can work better together to bring the vision of Digital Britain to young people; beginning in our primary schools and continuing through Further and Higher Education.
Businesses that do not adopt digital technologies fail to benefit from the productivity and competitiveness benefits they offer. SMEs in particular need targeted support to help them understand the strategic implications of technology and to deploy the skills within their workforce. Therefore BIS, in collaboration with the Regional Development Agencies is investing up to £23m over three years piloting a range of business support interventions to help firms exploit advanced ICT.
Government’s role as both regulator and customer offers a unique opportunity to support investment in innovation and skills. To help address skills issues in the digital sectors, we will now look to make it a requirement that successful bidders for major new Government IT contracts have in place formal training plans for the development of the project team.
CHAPTER 7: DIGITAL SECURITY AND SAFETY
“We have always had the ability to create structures that are quite bewildering to us. A good example is a city. The Internet is more like a city than anything else. In cities there are slums, there are palaces of wisdom, libraries, museums, art galleries, theatres, places of entertainment and shops. And there are places where you would not want to go down dark alleys, let alone have your children do so, but slowly we let our children learn to use the cities and they do.”
Stephen Fry – Digital Britain Summit
As we shift from analogue to digital networks, national to global, from standalone media to a converged media world, there are issues around security and safety that must be embraced. With new opportunities come new challenges, and it is right that international, national and domestic policy, regulatory and legal frameworks are adapted to keep pace with these changes.
By its nature, the digital world is one where self-responsibility, self-regulation and self-governance and international cooperation are central. But accepting that, there must still be appropriate safeguards, and structures which will both protect individuals but and mean it works effectively. Before people will be confident using their personal data as online currency, or fully using the internet for financial and retail transactions, they must trust that it is secure.
While its global nature is one of the internet’s great strengths, it also means it is not subject to any clear single jurisdiction. To address the need for guidance and protection for both individual users and national networks, the Government will:
- develop the UK’s role in global internet Government structures
- carry out a major exercise this year to test resilience against a telecommunications emergency
- support industry proposals for voluntary adoption of minimum standards
- consult on penalties that Ofcom is able to impose for contraventions of the Communications Act 2003, particularly relating to persistent misuse cases
- explore the formation of a Tripartite Internet Crime and Security Initiative, bringing parliamentarians, Government and business together
- adopt the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) system as the sole method of classifying video games in the UK, implementing the recommendations of the Byron Review to put all games rated 12 or over on a statutory footing
CHAPTER 8: THE JOURNEY TO DIGITAL GOVERNMENT
“Businesses are facing up to the real challenges of cutting costs in order to stay in business and emerge stronger form the downturn. The public sector needs to do likewise… so that the Government can continue to invest in excellent public services while maintaining sustainable public finances.”
Operational Efficiency Programme: final report, April 2009
The Government’s impact on the digital economy goes way beyond its role as policy maker. In delivering public services, as a large customer of ICT products and services and as the owner of data systems, the public sector has enormous influence on the market. In many areas, such as education, health and defence, Government can use its position as the leading procurer of services, to drive up standards – in some cases to set standards – and to provide an investment framework for research and development.
The Report therefore recommends that:
- to provide single-minded focus and oversee Whitehall-wide systems and standards, the Government Chief Information Officer should approve all significant ICT procurement by Government departments
- Almost half the population access information about Government or local council services online. Significant savings can be made through wider online delivery of public services. Some public services are already being delivered almost exclusively online
With great benefits available to both the customer and the public purse:
- there are advantages to delivering more public services online. By 2012 there will be a significant increase in digital participation and this will be the trigger for a programme of Digital Switchover of Public Services
CHAPTER 9: DELIVERING DIGITAL BRITAIN
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Since work on Digital Britain began, there has been extensive consultation, debate and evidence gathering with a broad range of interested parties. The Interim Report prompted almost 300 written responses; over 500 people attended events in London, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales; the Digital Britain Online Forum has had nearly 20,000 page views; and Ministers and the Digital Britain Team held nearly 500 meetings with people whose expertise and opinions have informed the Final Report.
Today’s Report marks the end of that phase of work, and the first step in delivering the Digital Britain agenda. A series of analytical reports is also published, and a timetable for further consultation. The Report clarifies areas the areas where legislative change is needed. A Bill will be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
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