Quiet Desperation

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Our Heroine?

This brings me to our heroine Sharon White who sumarised the current OFCOM position thus:

"The UK's 57-billion-pound communications sector is already our economy's second largest, after financial services. Communications and information exports rose by œ1bn in the last year alone, according to Government figures.........Approval of some mergers and takeovers may switch to UK regulators, who would work together to scrutinise deals in the sectors we regulate...........

There might also be challenges. In the digital age, the rules that govern internet traffic, mobile signals, Amazon or Netflix affect everyone.........Just as globalisation has broken down trading boundaries, modern communications show scant respect for national borders. They travel through the air, under sea and over global networks at the speed of light.........

After Brexit, we want to remain a constructive, influential player in these debates, sharing our experience and expertise. In future, that might mean working with EU countries to ensure 5G mobile devices work across the continent. Or helping to ensure that rules governing online services, like YouTube and WhatsApp, continue to protect openness and innovation............Just as the Government is seeking new trading opportunities in a world outside the EU, we would like to see a new framework for telecoms and TV regulation that protects the future needs of consumers and businesses, while allowing us to take part in a global debate over how these fast-moving sectors evolve."  [See OFCOM's new website for full text]

So is your "new framework" neither the EU Digital Single Market or the parochial Digital Economy Bill? If not, why don't you just clearly say so? "Might be challenges"? "Scant respect" ? Elsewhere in the FT (now under Japanese control) you said that the BBC has "special status"  but cannot be given"special treatment". Oh Dear! Why can't this exceptionalism policy translate across from the EU to the UK? Oh Sharon, Sharon, Sharon all of the above appears to me like self-pity, special pleading, English exceptionalism and a direct appeal for natural reasonableness. [Obviously the latter shall fall on deaf ears.] Convening powers aside, raise your game and visibility! Alas Sharon what now your Washington Speech views on the proposed AT&T and Time Warner vertical merger and Net Neutrality? 

Finally consider recent $100bn Vulture Fund announcements from Japanese SoftBank and the Saudi Royal Family: ironically a case of "Japanese Brain's" and "Saudi Moneybags" . A venture sound on tactics, weak on strategy? Clearly though, along with ARM they intend to plunder UK IP on the cheap. (But where will their buy-out money go?) Shall they in this venture drive Empress May into other very real National Security dilemmas as these foreign parties gear up to take on Silicon Valley and the American's? Alas shall Empress May sleepwalk into neutering the Secret State by giving away control of their toy's? Don't take the bait Sharon! I also sincerely hope Empress May is not foolhardy enough to contemplate using them as leverage and remembers what Winston said above. However, given that the UK is so far behind the US in 5G Policy and technology, by the time we get these preliminary parochial arguments out of the way, hopefully we shall have arrived at the Spirit of Renewal stage. 

Why do I say this? Because why did no one ever asked the simple question during the Referendum: Why after fifty years of  "Ever Closer Union" was Article 50 inserted into the Lisbon Treaty, in December 2007, with the full agreement of these European powers? Political Theatre eh!

Barry McKeown

1st November 2016

 

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