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Monday, 18 February 2008


18th Feb 2008

Last week I had my regular three to four monthly meeting with the trade unions representing people in the culture industries - BECTU, the NUJ, the Musicians' Union, the Writers' guild and those in the film industry. These meetings are helpful for me as I can judge things on the Culture Committee better for having had the unions' input. I also like to think they find talking to me helpful.

At this last meeting, in addition to the perennial Working Time Directive, we discussed the allocation for the spare radio spectrum released by the move to digital technology - the digital dividend. There is a real danger that this spectrum, which is in the hands of Member States and will therefore be disposed of by the UK, will be sold to the highest bidder with little regard for the best use of this resource.

The highest bidder in this case will more than likely be the mobile phone operators. Since the spectrum is being released by broadcasters, there is a strong moral argument that the broadcasters should keep a large chunk of it. If broadcasting is to remain at a reasonable standard, adequate spectrum facility is important. Plus, do we want ever more fancy and extensive mobile phone communication, the end result of which may be lack of privacy and ultimately an end to any idea of free time?

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