Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Fourth Report



4. We agreed to conduct an inquiry into the prospects for a draft Bill on communications policy and a range of related issues in July 2001 and published broad terms of reference in November. This work follows on from inquiries undertaken by the previous Committee during the 1997 Parliament which published two reports on these issues: The Multi-Media Revolution in 1998, and The Communications White Paper in 2001.[4]

5. The Committee commenced with an informal briefing in December 2001. We were very grateful to Mr Matthew Horsman, of Investec Henderson Crosthwaite, Mr Ian Morfett and Mr Peter Strickland, of British Telecom, and Dr Sarah Pearce, of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), for getting us off to a good start. POST's report on public policy and converging digital communications, e is for everything?, taken together with the previous Committee's report on the Communications White Paper, provides invaluable background reading for the issues pursued further here.[5]

6. We took evidence between January and March 2002 from broadcasters (national and local), providers of telecommunications and Internet services, the five regulators being absorbed into OFCOM, the National Consumer Council and others. We concluded our oral evidence-taking with a session with the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Rt Hon Patricia Hewett MP, appearing jointly and supported by the Government's e-Envoy, Mr Andrew Pinder. The full list of witnesses and of the written evidence received is set out at the back of this volume.[6]

7. We also visited the United States of America in April 2002 to discuss the US approach to the regulation of the communications sector with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and others and to hear about technological developments in the areas of digital television and broadband Internet services—and the economics of bringing these to the market.[7]

4   Fourth Report, 1997-98, HC 520 and Second Report, 2000-01, HC 161. Back

5   Ibid, and op. cit., December 2001, Report 170, POST Back

6   See end of this volume Back

7   See Annex 2 Back

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Prepared 1 May 2002