Stephen Carter new broadcasting minister
Stephen Carter left Ofcom back in 2006 and has now been appointed as the junior minister of communications, technology and broadcasting.
In this position his role is split across two government departments, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Details of this and other cabinet reshuffles over at The Guardian.
There are many challenges ahead in the broadband and communications arena, which go a long way beyond what many see as the holy grail of fibre to the home. One example raised by Technology Critic Bill Thompson on BBC News Online is regulation of the growing variety of video content online. A clear and present danger is that rules that initially set out to protect children from adult content, may stifle innovation in new media. For example if sites offering online video require certificates, who decides what certificate to give, how long and how expensive is this process? Does the average blogger who puts the odd funny video clip online need to apply?
One big question that is unanswered as yet, is how would any policing of online video content work when a great deal is hosted overseas already, and new rules could force even more abroad. Broadband and the ease of access to information has had a disruptive effect on several established industries, the music industry perhaps being the largest example. Not all change is bad, but some try to stave off the change for as long as possible. Most will agree that how people watch TV is changing, the days of people sitting down to watch a single channel all evening are virtually gone.
The internet and web browsing were created with a view to allow academics to share information, and since the inception of broadband the public has embraced the information sharing aspects. Now with large companies involved we will see their influence increasing, particularly as some may try to protect their profit margins by regulating away new players or ensuring the continuance of an existing status quo.