Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: It's Taken a Septuagenarian to Breathe Life into Digital Switch

Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: It's Taken a Septuagenarian to Breathe Life into Digital Switch

Article excerpt

There's nothing like calling in a septuagenarian to add a little vigour to a failing government policy. Harold Wilson understood this perfectly when he used to boast about the need to hand over to an older man - in his case, Jim Callaghan.

But it has taken the arrival of Lord McIntosh at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, at 70 the oldest minister in the government, to breathe some life into digital switchover.

McIntosh has actually bothered to set out the benefits of digital to consumers, something that in the past has been largely taken for granted.

The Labour peer has also addressed honestly some of the major problems facing switchover, such as the millions of analogue items that continue to walk out the doors of electrical stores every year.

Then there is the vexed issue of whether the government should stick to its belief that you only set a date for switchover once the right criteria have been met, such as 95% digital penetration. Or do you make things happen more quickly, as the industry believes, by setting a date, even if it is still some way off? At least serious planning could get under way.

It may seem a modest thing, but McIntosh is to be congratulated on bringing consumer groups into the debate on how digital switchover is going to be handled. If it is going to work it will have to be viewed primarily as a consumer issue rather than a top-down industrial policy.

But the really impressive thing is that in his speech at the Westminster Media Forum last week, McIntosh uttered the magic word 'resources'. …

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