Jeremy Hunt in palm of News Corp? Our CEO’s take on today’s Leveson allegations

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATim Leech gives an opinion on the calls for Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to resign. As head of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Mr Hunt often works on committees participated in by WaveLength

The Leveson inquiry today brings up some unpleasant allegations directed at Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Some claim Mr Hunt worked too closely with News Corp executives, lending support to their takeover of BSkyB at a time when many in the sector voiced concern over such an important service becoming concentrated in the hands of one company.

Tim says: “We don’t yet know the truth of these allegations, but at WaveLength the news concerns us on behalf of the isolated, housebound and often impoverished people who we represent. Listening to business interests is important, but for a public servant, listening to public interests should be paramount.

“News Corp’s proposed BSkyB takeover is controversial because it threatens the competition which provides the public with a range of services at a range of prices. I sat on committees with Mr Hunt to discuss the UK’s TV Digital Switchover. One of my main concerns then was that people who cannot afford digital equipment, or find it difficult to operate, should not face a situation where they have no other option. As the UK dives back into a double-dip recession today, this concern is even more important. A pay-to-view station should not be able to form a monopoly on TV viewing.

“Currently, we are discussing a potential switchover to digital radio – and along with the Consumer Expert Group which we’re a part of, we’re keen to make sure that a switchover doesn’t impact on the public’s ability to ensure choice and quality, and doesn’t harm those who are unaware of, distrust or are unable to afford digital radio. We feel that important decisions should reflect a consensus among the public.

“In this country we have a great tradition, of providing low-cost and accessible TV and radio media. At WaveLength we know how much of a lifeline this access can be for Britain’s most vulnerable people. With the Olympics coming up, it’s important that Britain shows its public servants are listening to the public.”

Mr Hunt is expected to give a statement on the matter to the House of Commons on Wednesday.