ITC Freedom to Flourish: the future of communications

INTRODUCTION

My theme tonight is freedom: business freedom and creative freedom. When these come together, things happen: business grows, societies benefit and nations prosper.

INTEGRATING THE COMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY

This evening I want to examine communications, look at the potential for business and creative freedom - and at the need to balance them - and then to offer a view of where the sector might be heading in the next decade.

Forecasting, of course, is dangerous. "There are those who don't know . . . and those who don't know they don't know!" I take warning from a Western Union memo dated 1876: "The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." So tonight I'll err on the side of caution and argue not on the basis of futurology but from what we can see already in the market.

A single policy framework

It is a special privilege to give the Fleming lecture now, in the midst of change and with parliament about to reshape the rules via a new communications bill. We start with the government's core decision: to bring policy together across telecoms and broadcasting with one act and one regulator. If you and I can watch television down the phone line and send e-mails through the telly, it makes sense to create a single policy framework.

We have started to suffer disconnects: between the way we think about networks and the way we treat the services on them. The network operators complain about the privileges of the BBC and others. The content suppliers complain about network power. We find it hard to move forward, because we use different disciplines and different authorities to:

ask what we want from broadcasting;

plan the spectrum to deliver it; and

design price regimes for getting on to the networks.

Each of these topics has its own arcane rules. Yet they all relate to a simple question: what choice and quality of information and entertainment will be available to us in ten years' time?

Mending the disconnects

I'll explore this evening some ways to mend the disconnects, largely by applying market disciplines as far as we can - though there are some decisions that are not susceptible to economic judgements: the value of cultural goods, for example. I'll suggest ways to create more freedom for both creative and business talents and ways to make sure decisions are taken by those best equipped to do so:

business decisions by businessmen (and women!);

competition and compliance judgements by regulators; and

overall priorities by politicians, since they are the only ones who can be held to account by the electorate.

It sounds obvious; but it is easier said than done.

MARKETS AND OTHER VALUES

A few years ago, there were those who believed that history had ended. Economics was all that mattered. History, meaning our attempts to manage affairs except as economics dictates, had come to an end.

Well, up to a point. Communism fell in Russia when the command economy could no longer stand against market reality. And globalisation means there is no escape from that reality.

Prosperity and democracy

But man does not live by bread alone. He gets impatient if the market does not support his other priorities. The human condition remains, as it always has, the painful struggle to manage economic reality alongside all of our aspirations; to achieve prosperity while serving other passions and beliefs. What happened on 11 September last year reminded us of the need to manage these things together, on a global and not just a national scale.

So here we are, in an industry with these issues at its core. We need communications to fuel economic growth. We also want it, to support society and feed the political and cultural debates that inform democracy. Without information and dialogue, we cannot govern ourselves successfully. And we certainly cannot win the international battle for the values we care about.

But these are deep waters. Let's start with the dismal science of economics - and it certainly is dismal! Economists, don't forget, forecast nine of the last five recessions! But, in spite of them, we've managed to get a few things right economically in the UK.

ECONOMIC SUCCESS

In my lifetime world trade has increased 17 times over. We took the decision to commit to global competition and reaped the benefits. By the year 2000, earnings from overseas investments were yielding £29bn a year, and the UK was Europe's top location for inward investment.

It is tough to compete in world markets. After all, the US generates a third of world production and its companies account for 14 of the world's top 20. But Britain has four companies in the top 20 - in oil, pharmaceuticals and communications; the only country outside America with more than one.

Communications - the British success

And communications are the British success story!

The downturn has hit hard. But that should not blind us to the fact that BT and Vodafone are up there in the top 20 of their sector, with Vodafone at number one; and we have three of the world's top media companies, if we include the BBC. Communications are something we're very good at. So let's stop complaining about a lack of world-class companies and think, rather, about how to free ourselves to do even better.

A sector worth £9.5bn in 1980 was worth more than £50bn by the year 2000; and had outperformed the economy by 2 per cent per annum compound.

Commercial radio had come into its own and radio listening now tops television as the nation's number one pastime. That's a real pointer to the future of converged technology. We can listen to radio on our PC, satellite TV, Walkman or phone; or use the plain, old-fashioned radio in the car or kitchen. We have flourishing local radio services as well as global choice. And the most successful offerings are well-funded, high-quality British networks, from Classic FM to Radio 5 Live.

Compared with that choice and convenience, television is just at the beginning. But we've grown ad-based services alongside the publicly funded BBC, and added a dynamic subscription sector. Satellite provides a second universal television service. Cable passes half of all households, rolling out telephony, broadcasting and broadband.

On top of that, three-quarters of us own a mobile phone. And we can, if we shop around, keep in touch with a niece in Boston or an aunt in Adelaide for 20 per cent of the cost of the phone call 20 years ago - and exchange our holiday snaps online. We can shop, bank and place a bet through our PC or TV and, in some broadband areas, catch the school concert or consult a nurse from our sitting-room.

The end of the dotcom boom can't conceal the scale of these changes or their significance for the economy. It is a new world.

So, it is not surprising there are strains in proportion to such change.

The price of change

The sector is assessing new technologies, managing an explosion of new services and competing to renew national infrastructures, all at the same time. If you take the systems and network costs of going digital, and add in some early numbers for broadband - DSL and mobile - you're talking about a £15bn project; and all before offering any content on these systems or achieving switch-over.

Compare that £15bn with Railtrack's estimate of the £16bn needed to upgrade our railway network, or the extra spend needed for the health service. Our sector has met its challenge so far, in the face of the downturn and of global competition, which Railtrack and the NHS are spared. It's no wonder individual companies are struggling.

Pioneers always take the strain. It is the curse of being first. We are seeing serious problems, restructuring and consolidation. But the new services are a reality; we know they will succeed and there will be no shortage of investors to take them forward.

This is a real tribute to the power of the market, the strength of the sector and a reasonable regulatory framework.

A framework under strain

The framework, like the sector, is also under strain. UK media companies are limited in scale by ownership rules. There are still barriers to inward investment. And telco regulation, which successfully reduced retail prices over 20 years, is now scrambling to refocus on wholesale competition and the supply of broadband.

FREEDOM TO COMPETE

With a new bill and a new regulator, there is a chance to take stock; to make a real cultural shift and to focus on what matters most.

Investment

Investment matters. We need to get rid of blocks to investment wherever possible.

Perhaps the time has come, in any single media market, to rely more on competition law and roll back complex ownership controls? Special safeguards are needed for news, the fuel of democracy, and for cross-media ownership, where significant market power means significant political power. But other constraints can surely be simplified.

Can we reverse the burden of proof, so it falls to the regulator to show where regulation is still needed, rather than the other way round?

The Independent Television Commission (ITC) is now asking Channels 3, 4 and 5 to account themselves to the public for their performance, reserving fall-back powers to itself in the audience interest.

In telecoms, the regulator, Oftel, is starting to focus pressures on the wholesale side, and to review retail price controls wherever competition can serve the consumer better. Retail price controls have already gone in gas supply. Electricity is next and prices are falling. It must be the way forward for telecoms.

Regulating behaviour, against the odds, is a last resort. It draws bureaucrats into business decisions and ties businesses up second-guessing the regulator. We need to cut it to the minimum and replace it, wherever possible, with competitive structures and incentives that deliver what's needed without further intervention.

Access

In communications, access matters; access through delivery systems is the key to consumer choice. Systems and networks depend on a small number of large operators. Their costs make that inevitable. Services are then channelled through gateways to the customer - the phone line's local loop, the set-top box, the software in the PC - controlled by relatively few players. Where there is scope for competition is between the channels and services on the systems - between E4 and Sky One, Nickelodeon and Disney, or hundreds of internet sites.

So competition means being tough about the conditions that make access possible.

The right access regime frees us to welcome investment and live with a small number of large players. I spoke of the challenge of renewing Britain's infrastructure. So long as ser-vice providers - especially UK service providers - really do reach their audiences on fair terms, we can welcome investment from global players, knowing their systems will carry, and not displace, competing services. Our cable and satellite systems clearly depend on overseas investment. But services on them draw in a much wider ownership. We can and should use tough competition criteria to ensure that they do.

Broadband access

Access rules are also the key to broadband. There are really two models we could use to drive broadband in Britain. We could go the German route and favour the incumbent telco in return for agreed broadband targets. Or we could stick to the competition agenda. The first route may seem attractive; a way of encouraging investment in a downturn. But we can do that without letting competition go. And, in the long run, competition will take us further, because you need the creativity of many service providers to drive a market.

Perhaps Britain isn't a broadband failure. Perhaps it's a multimedia success. Forty per cent of homes have signed up to the internet, at some of the best prices in Europe. Similar numbers have digital TV, around twice the penetration elsewhere.

The broadband market

Customers care about services, not technology. Most of us want to watch a film, replay that tiebreaker or order a pizza; and we're interested in the cost of doing so, not how it's done.

Sky is driving the market with multi- channel broadcasts and a narrowband return path: its interactive news and sport, games, betting and movies, have taught the market some lessons and pointed the way for "real" broadband operators such as Kingston Interactive or ntl and Telewest, who can offer really fat pipes to the domestic consumer. Cable broad- band and a satellite "proxy" is building demand.

Interconnection

The issue for DSL is to see past the hype and respond to reality. The telcos are suffering from a crisis of confidence and a shortage of capital. It is true of the US and of every major market. This is the moment, surely, to look at BT's core business and set a timetable for rolling back retail price controls wherever competition is in place to protect the consumer interest.

DSL at present is only always-on, high-speed internet. At data rates of 500kb/s, it is more "middleband" than broadband; great for music and data transfers but without - yet - a real capacity for video. That will come later. What's on offer is still a utility, only as good as its price and the services on it. You maximise services and minimise price by spreading the costs of infra- structure across as many service providers as possible. Network access and competition - including genuinely easy switching into the local loop on genuinely fair terms - sit well alongside a programme of reducing controls on retail prices and bundling. It worked for gas; it worked for electricity and for good, old-fashioned telecoms. Why should broadband be different?

Inclusion

Taking our communications systems together, a patchwork quilt of service - real and proxy broadband - is driving take-up. Together, they'll reach most people in a very few years, whereas full broadband could take 20. We'll achieve our goal of inclusion in the information society well before then and build it on what people actually find useful.

Competition won't achieve everything - broadband to rural Wales, universal high-speed connections, or digital switch-over - but it will get us closer more quickly and cheaply than any other method. It frees us to focus intervention on what the market really can't achieve and makes that intervention more affordable. And once the commercial networks are built, it will be possible to gauge the cost of the final push for universal service and switch-over.

I've set out some key ways of making it easier to succeed, rolling back regulation and giving the market freedom to flourish.

GLOBAL FREEDOMS

But although we need the communications sector to fuel the economy, we look to it for more than economic success.

We also want it to feed our democracy; to carry on the debate about who we are and what kind of world we want to live in. Broadcasting is at the heart of social expression. It defines our culture and presents our values to the world.

Globalisation is as important to ideas as it is to economic performance.

The media and global understanding

After 11 September, President Bush and Tony Blair competed with Osama Bin Laden to address the world via satellite. At home, broadcasters reported events to people of many different cultures and religions; to Indians and Afro-Caribbeans, to Muslims and Jews and Christians. Our media now serves the global citizen.

So, television and radio need to reflect different groups within the national audience, as well as the dialogue between nations. Good communication supports understanding. It makes us governable at home and acceptable abroad.

How are we doing? After 11 September, people around the world turned to the BBC: to the World Service, of course, with its long-standing reputation for impartiality, but also to BBC world television and to BBC Online.

At home, the main networks, as well as Sky News, did very well indeed. And Channel 4 added value. It offered Unreported World, on a whole range of international issues, as well as a season on cultural and race relations in the UK. That season generated hits to Channel 4's website second only to Big Brother. People care!

The media and education

We focus a lot on education and its relevance to citizenship. But we spend far more of our time with radio and television. If you add up all the hours spent in a lifetime, we devote the equivalent of three years, on average, to formal education and 20 to radio and television. That little factoid should move the media up our agenda. What it offers, just as much as our education system, will shape our future at home and our place in the world.

It's a happy challenge. From Charles Dickens to J K Rowling, Britain has been pretty good at communicating.

In the 20th century, we faced for the first time a mass audience with new tools: radio and television. In a moment of genius, we asked for services that "inform, educate and entertain". It was the age of the common man, of wars fought with conscripts, of package holidays and McDonald's. No doubt much radio and TV was mediocre. But much was good and some was very good indeed. Round the Horne and Hancock's Half Hour; Cathy Come Home and Coronation Street; Panorama with Richard Dimbleby and World in Action; The World at War and The Avengers; The Forsyte Saga and Dr Who; The Jewel in the Crown and Yes, Minister, Newsnight and News at Ten; and Sir Jimmy Young.

Success bred confidence. British voices spoke to the world; Malcolm Muggeridge and Isaiah Berlin, Jacob Bronowski and A J P Taylor, Lord Clark of Civilisation, Alastair Cooke and Mark Tully. The World Service reached 150 million people and John Thaw as Inspector Morse played in well over 100 countries.

High ambitions

Will we, in this new century, serve the global citizen, both at home and abroad, as well as, in the last, we served the common man?

If we're to do so, we'll need real ambition in three areas:

First, delivery: we've set our sights on free-to-air digital choice, as well as a broadband link for every home. We can succeed. We will reach 50 per cent digital take-up well ahead of other countries and previous new technologies. All credit to Sky for leading roll-out. If Pace can launch a £99 receiver and the free-to-air broadcasters put stronger services out in digital, then the market can deliver 70-75 per cent take-up. But how that might happen is an issue - more of that in a minute.

Certainly by 2006, the date of the government's target to start switch-over, the number of "refuseniks" should be clear. That, by happy chance, is when the BBC licence fee is up for renewal. The BBC is the only broadcaster in Britain with strong financial and cultural links to practically every home. I have no doubt that switch-over will, in the end, depend on a deal which uses the licence fee and these links to achieve a digital service to every home.

Next, ambition for choice: already we have three 24-hour news channels and about 15 children's channels; Sky One and Sky Sports, Artsworld and the History Channel. The cricket is fabulous, especially if you watch Channel 4 pictures and listen to Radio 4 commentary. Whether we're film buffs or football junkies, or want to follow Big Brother online, we're in a world of choice. Let the market flourish.

And, third, ambition for quality; just since December, the "must sees" have included Shackleton on Channel 4, the Falklands coverage on 4 and 5, Conspiracy on BBC2, for the Holocaust weekend, with a chilling portrayal by Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich, Othello on ITV and a national debate across all outlets sparked by the Bloody Sunday dramas.

Competition has improved choice and raised production values. But (and there is a but) it takes national networks to make substantial and high-risk investment in original creative output, because only they can pull in audiences in the millions. Most cable and satellite channels count their audiences in thousands and their original programme spend per hour is less than that.

Commodity TV

In a digital future, with seven BBC services planned on five channels and maybe five or six mainstream commercial networks, as well as hundreds of niche offerings, won't competition push ambition for quality off the agenda, even for the networks?

I very much fear it will, unless together we decide otherwise. Already we're beginning to see the problem. We are at a watershed, and facing a very real risk that competition - in this one respect - has its downside. There's a genuine danger of a market delivering sport, films and commodity TV, with little to challenge and engage. Production-line programmes, polished and entertaining, but predictable. We won't change much by asking the regulator to impose motherhood and apple pie aspirations in the face of economic self-interest.

THE WAY AHEAD

I spoke earlier about networks and systems. Now let me suggest some ways forward for the content and services on those systems. If we want to create space for ambition, we need structural solutions; structures that fit the market and incentives to support the investment needed for real creative freedom.

We can't hold back the tide. But we can channel it in constructive directions.

The BBC

Our biggest structural intervention is the BBC. It raises £2.5bn of public money and enjoys one-third of the revenues available to broadcasting. It makes the market. Kelvin MacKenzie says it corrupts it. It is a huge structural intervention. But for good or ill?

That's a question about apples and pears; about how much competition and how much creative investment. Now, we can measure markets, but not creativity. So regulators can't strike the balance. That is a matter for parliament and for democratic decision. Do we want to dismantle the BBC or support it?

Let me answer that as a voter, not a regulator. A properly funded and focused BBC is a necessary condition of ambition in broadcasting.

Properly funded and focused! It should be popular, of course! Where is the public service in anything else? But it should accept the challenge to make the market; that is, to make it different from what it would be if the BBC did not exist. Beating ITV with Blue Planet is a triumph. Beating it with Celebrity Sleepover is a tragedy.

So how do we judge funding and focus? We would not, and could not, know what is possible if the BBC were the only benchmark. The BBC on its own, therefore, is a necessary but not sufficient condition of broadcast ambition. Let me use television to illustrate what I mean.

Channel 4

We need Channel 4 to keep the BBC honest! With free spectrum and no shareholder pressure, Channel 4 can also do things the market won't. But, as it is, Channel 4 isn't enough. It hasn't the scale to act across the board. If we decide to make space in the market for publicly funded broadcasting, we will have to ensure strong competition to keep it honest. Channel 4 is trying to build a multichannel presence with purely commercial channels. Good luck to it. But maybe we should think about how to build, over the next few years, its public service offering as well.

New public service players

And we should be expanding horizons. Where funding can be found, why not let new public interest providers join the club - public and private, national and community? Community radio can offer a genuine added dimension. And let me commend a TV pilot being run by Telewest - government-funded - to offer health information on an interactive basis, including one-to-one live access to professional advice from qualified nurses. Or look at Kingston Interactive TV's commercially funded local service, which allows parents to log on via the television to the local school concert. These additions enrich what we've traditionally meant by public service.

Regional creativity

Kingston is quite a hub now for regional investment. It is good to see. As markets globalise, they threaten local creativity just when we need it most. That's why the ITC is switching its focus in the nations and regions from hours of output to levels of investment. Broadcasters with a regional base - notably ITV - need freedom to adapt to new services, new tastes and needs, but on a firm foundation of regional investment commitments that attract and nurture talent.

Commercial networks

What about the national networks, in a future where audiences are spread more thinly? Their future, too, depends on ambition, and on investment for British audiences.

I have three messages tonight for the commercial networks:

To the broadcasters: have confidence. Times are tough. But ambition, risk-taking and challenge will keep channels fresh. Channel 4 has found that to be true and, since the autumn, Channel 5 has been raising its game and holding on to its audience, against the trend.

To advertisers, I say: understand the challenge. Even the most popular channels can no longer be all things to all men. In future, the networks will need to develop distinctive but complementary identities if they are to succeed. Support their ambition. Bloody Sunday didn't only get 3.5 million viewers for ITV. It was part of the roll-call of ITV drama: Peak Practice and Cold Feet, Bob and Rose and My Uncle Silas, My Beautiful Son and Anybody's Nightmare; programmes that bring premium audiences to the home of television drama in the UK. Those audiences won't be there for commodity TV, or the advertisers who support it. They'll have better things to do with their time.

To the legislators, I say: create a structure that encourages investment. Reward radio for its investment in digital with longer-term security for those who made it. Offer a new and simpler contract to those commercial television networks willing to take it - and that may well include new players in digital space. The deal is universal coverage, stretching targets for original programmes made for British audiences, and diversity, in exchange for free digital terrestrial spectrum, plus guaranteed carriage and prominence on cable and satellite systems. This needs to be confirmed in the new bill.

The digital terrestrial future

But what, you may ask, about the viability of the digital terrestrial idea? As I said earlier, it's tough to go first. You might be the early bird - or the early worm! Pioneers build a business for themselves - or for those that follow!

But, whatever the outcome for ITV Digital, the network is built and the costs are sunk. With the current programme of power increases and a handful of new transmitters, it covers 75 per cent of the population and 85 per cent for the free-to-air networks - and more at switch-over - without the need for further build.

The spectrum has no significant value for other uses until switch-over, because most of them would interfere with analogue services. Independent research suggests a value of £40m now, compared with anything from £1bn-£16bn at switch-over. And the economics of switch-over by any other route don't add up - the easiest and cheapest route to digital is via a television aerial.

So, it's a no-brainer. The system is built and service providers should use it. It's important they do, for reasons of competition - satellite plus cable to half the country isn't enough - and of inclusion; free-to-air television serves everyone. The only question is the best business plan for speedy success and whether the major players can work together to drive take-up. It is important that they do so. But sooner or later it will happen. Multichannel television works. Half the population aren't wrong. Just as the late adopters came to television at last in the Fifties and Sixties, so they will eventually to digital choice, and by what is, for them, the simplest route.

Taking decisions

I said success depends on making sure decisions are taken by those best equipped to do so. I've set out some principles for rolling back regulation and letting freedoms flourish; business freedom and creative freedom. Where there's a balance to be struck between the two, only parliament can strike it. Because any space for public service affects commercial players and their profits. Only parliament, answerable to us all, can take that decision.

OFCOM

So what about the regulator, the new single regulator, Ofcom, charged with implementing parliament's decisions? It must, of course, be accountable but also independent.

Independence from government

Ofcom will contain telco authorities, staffed now by seconded civil servants, and close to their sponsor departments - properly, so, since they deal in the planning laws and real estate of communications. It will also embrace broadcasting regulators who depend for credibility on distance from government. I hope a joint committee of both Houses will go through the draft bill with a fine-tooth comb and - where government might be tempted to take in broadcasting the kind of powers it has in telecoms - save it from itself. On a Brass Eye or a Bloody Sunday, ministers must be able to say, "that's a matter for the regulator". Freedom requires it.

Accountability to parliament

Ofcom's focus should be on competition and compliance.

It must be answerable for the decisions it takes. Last week, the five regulators whose authorities will form Ofcom, appeared together before a select committee. It was a meeting for connoisseurs. Honourable Member: "What should Ofcom's culture be?" David Edmonds: "After you, Patricia. . . ." Self: "No, please, after you, David. . . ." But, seriously, it was a symbolic meeting. Over time, those sessions will be among the most important in the debate on policy.

Content board

Ofcom's decisions will need to be clear and its reasons transparent. That is why the three broadcasting regulators have pressed for a "content board", with a duty to inform the main board about the public interest in programmes and services, and be seen to be doing so.

If a content board is to be credible, I believe it will need audience input - from research, certainly, but, most particularly, from audience representatives appointed to advise on the public interest.

The right structure

Getting the structures right will be crucial. They will need to reflect the diversity of the United Kingdom; not least, by a presence in the nations and regions. And audience bodies should report to and strengthen the content board, not compete with it. It would be too easy for divided counsels to weaken Ofcom and let broadcasters off the hook.

Above all, Ofcom should be slim and effective. This means putting together a professional core that is light on its feet. But the core competencies must attract the best. Because when Ofcom does intervene - to open a gateway or hold a broadcaster to its licence - it will take on some of the most powerful companies in the world.

DEMOCRACY AND NEWS

Let me end where I began. My theme tonight is freedom. Freedom is fed and nurtured by the media. Unless that happens, our democracy is in serious danger.

Audiences for news

For 30 years, the ITC and its predecessor have surveyed public attitudes to broadcasting. Over those years, people have consistently told us that television is their single most important source of news and information. But last year, about three-quarters of all viewers told ITC researchers they had little or no interest in election coverage. This month, jointly with the Broadcasting Standards Commission, we publish new research which shows that politics and business coverage is the news that interests people least. Yet world news and issues such as the NHS come out top. Yet, somehow, we've managed to unhook politics in the public mind from its subject matter.

This is perhaps the biggest challenge facing broadcasters and those charged with thinking about what we should require of the sector over the next 10 years. By the time the communications bill reaches the floor of the House, we need an agreed way forward.

I have talked a lot about ambition tonight. And I urge broadcasters to have ambition for news and political programming. We need to get away from stale agendas and predictable yah-boo coverage of party politics. The ingenuity and drive of today's journalists is more than capable of finding new ways to connect with public concerns - and not just by a few one-offs among a daily news agenda of crime, football and pop personalities.

Channel 4 has managed it, building its news audience at 7pm from 800,000 to up to a million over three years. Radio 4 has put on a million listeners, mostly to news. Channel 5 has increased its evening news audience from 390,000 to a million. OK, the regulator wouldn't let Channel 5 move its news out of peak. But it rose to the challenge and found two slots at 5.30pm and 7.30pm which do well.

We know the extraordinary quality of television reporting in this country. We saw it in Afghanistan: in ITN's news specials for ITV and in the professionalism of journalists such as William Reeve and Stephen Evans -and not forgetting John Simpson's march into Kabul! We need to harness this drive to the other issues that people care about.

Independent news

Accurate news and impartial information is the first thing we ask of our broadcasters. But accuracy and impartiality aren't enough. We need a range of insights; different approaches to what is important. We may get up with the Today programme and go to bed with Newsnight. But not even the BBC's outstanding news machine can be relied on to reflect every sensitivity, or get the balance right every time. Sky offers an excellent alternative, drawing on the global resources of News International. But, in a complex world, two news agendas are not enough.

The new bill must make provision for an independent third force, able - as ITN currently does - to serve more than one outlet and achieve the scale needed to compete. And the bill should require proper investment in news, to underpin obligations to compete in the field of high-quality national and international news.

Freedom to flourish

Thank you for letting me share tonight some of my insights, as well as my passion for the media. This is a marvellous moment to be involved.

Let our compass be freedom.

Freedom for Britain's communications industries to get on with what they do best, seeking ways to serve the consumer through every possible distribution outlet.

Freedom for ideas to flourish, both in the market, but also in spaces that offer more than the market can.

Freedom, above all, for audiences - as consumers and citizens, with a right to the richest offering possible of high-quality, affordable information and entertainment.

All of us here tonight have a tremendous privilege. We are about to shape the sector for a new generation. We must not fail.