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The Communications Review seminars

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Henry Anderton

Member of The Department Comms Review Team

As the third Communications Review seminar gets underway at DCMS today, Henry Anderton from the department’s Comms Review team looks back at discussions on issues such as consumer data, competition and even fish bladders.

We’re now two sessions into our series of policy seminars, and here’s a brief update on what has happened so far.
These seminars are an important part of the work we’re doing to produce a White Paper early next year, and eventually a Communications Bill.
Seminar One took a cross-cutting look at the Consumer Perspective, with Communications Minister Ed Vaizey kicking off proceedings, then a presentation from Ofcom to set the scene by setting out some key consumer trends and potential issues. A panel discussion featuring representatives from Virgin Media, Olswang LLP, Channel 4 and Which? then covered consumer threats and opportunities, identifying among other things some interesting issues over consumers’ data.
Threats and opportunities for consumers whose data is being stored and used appear to be finely balanced – while many will welcome a more ‘personalised’ approach – better targeted adverts for products, services or content they may actually want, for instance – there will be issues over control of personal data, and transparency over how it is used by companies.

Key questions

The paper that supported this seminar reflects the key questions that ministers have in mind when thinking about the consumer, and we hope that the discussion at the seminar provided the context for interested parties to respond to the questions that the paper poses. We will also be following up some of the main areas, (such as micropayments and protecting consumers against unwanted calls and texts) with smaller groups in the Autumn. Accessibility issues, which are raised in the paper, were covered in more detail by the Government’s eAccessibility Forum at its meeting on 10 July.
Seminar Two focused on the competition regime in the broadcasting and telecommunications markets and featured an introductory presentation from Ofcom and a lively panel debate chaired by Mark OIiver. To find out what was discussed, watch the video or read the transcript of the seminars which will be published on the Comms Review website. Look out for the illuminating reference to fish bladders – your pint of beer wouldn’t be the same without them, apparently…

Have your say

You can also read through the accompanying papers and agendas for all of the seminars. We’ve set the papers up in commentable format, so you can follow what others are saying, and add your own comments and responses to questions too. If tweeting’s your thing, you can also stay up to date and be a part of the conversation by following #Commsreview.
We have two more sessions before the summer break: tomorrow Ed Vaizey will chair a smaller, roundtable session to cover issues around how spectrum is managed; and following this, there’s a larger seminar on Monday, featuring three separate discussion panels, covering questions around incentivising investment and stimulating growth in the UK’s TV content industries. Again, keep an eye out for summaries, transcripts and video of these seminars on the Comms Review website.
The Communications Review team

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