Channel 4 CEO Tells MPs They’re Considering Using Emergency Debt Facility

Alex Mahon, CEO of Channel 4, told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee today that the broadcaster is considering using its emergency £75 million debt facility after an advertising “market shock”. Channel 4 is owned by a public corporation controlled ultimately by the DCMS, and its revenue is set to fall by 8-9%, a more than the 6% previously forecast. The sharp downturn in advertising on the channel means the broadcaster is thinking of relying on its financial backstop for the first time in its history. Mahon said she “doesn’t forsee” the need to rely on “state subsides” in the future, despite the fact streaming views were down a whopping 10% last year. Clearly Bake-Off isn’t enough to entice viewers…

mdi-timer 28 November 2023 @ 16:11 28 Nov 2023 @ 16:11 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
DCMS Publish King Charles “Coronation Celebration” Playlist

DCMS have created a 28-song celebratory playlist ahead of King Charles’ coronation in May. Lasting 1hr 45 mins, His Majesty’s mixtape opens with Come Together, before royally rocking to David Bowie, Queen, and the Spice Girls. It wraps up with “King” by Years and Years. Guido leaves it to co-conspirators to decide if it belongs in the Ministry of Sound…

mdi-timer 6 February 2023 @ 13:03 6 Feb 2023 @ 13:03 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Lord Frost Takes Fight to Online Harms Bill, as Cost Balloons by £400 Million

Today Lord Frost joins Guido in the fight against the Online Harms Bill, launching an all-out assault on its threat to free speech. Frost’s no holds barred attack, including calling the bill “fundamentally flawed” and un-conservative, has been published alongside a new paper by the IEA, which accuses the bill of handing “unprecedented censorship powers to Secretary of State and Ofcom”. Objectively correct.

In full, Frost says:

“There is so much wrong with this Bill that it is hard to know where to start, but the report rightly highlights the fact that it will mean some speech that is legal offline will effectively be impossible online. That makes no sense and will be highly damaging to public debate, especially given the weakness of the free speech protections in the Bill.

Overall the Bill also panders to the view of the perennially offended – those who think the Government should protect them from ever encountering anything they disagree with.  A Conservative Government should not be putting this view into law.

“The best thing the Government could do would be to slim down the Bill so they can proceed rapidly with the genuinely uncontroversial aspects, and consign the rest where it belongs – the waste paper basket.”

Reading through the IEA’s paper, one thing that immediately jumps out to Guido is that the government’s own expected cost of the bill has jumped up from £2.1 billion in May 2021 to £2.5 billion today – a whole £400 million extra in a year. A figure the IEA rubbishes as a nonsense underestimation anyway:

“The impact assessment asserts that it will cost businesses, on average, £700 over ten years to read and understand the regulations, for example. However, this would not realistically cover the fees of a specialist law firm for two hours, let alone the internal staff time costs. The impact assessment specifically assumes staff will only require 30 minutes to familiarise themselves with the requirements of the 255-page legislation and 90 minutes to read, assess and change terms and conditions in response to the requirements. Legal advice is estimated to cost £39.23 per hour  an order of magnitude less than the fees of hundreds of pounds per hour typically charged by lawyers in this field.”

Turning to the inclusion of ‘legal but harmful’ speech, which platforms will have to crack down on, huge questions remain on specifics given the government has still not formally specified categories this will include. While the obvious woke labels of ‘misogynistic abuse’ will likely be included, shadow DCMS secretary Lucy Powell has already let the mask slip on the future plans of Labour ministers to massively abuse this power:

“Lucy Powell has raised concerns that the Bill as it stands would allow ‘incels’ and ‘climate deniers’ to ‘slip through the net’. She clearly envisages an extension of the notion of ‘harmful’ to cover matters of public policy debate.”

David Davis also pitches in, warning “could end up being one of the most significant accidental infringements on free speech in modern times.” Guido can’t understand why Nadine believes this won’t backfire on Conservatives like her. Big Brother Watch already proved that her “nail your balls to the floor” tweet, if posted to Facebook, results in the post being deleted by the platform. That’s before her new free speech clamp down comes into force…

Guido encourages all policymakers to read the paper – embedded below. If the government wants to get the Boris show back on the road, and reassure Tory members and MPs that this government is worth fighting for – while saving at least £2.5 billion – scrapping swathes of this big-state bill could not be a more obvious starting point…

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mdi-timer 27 June 2022 @ 11:45 27 Jun 2022 @ 11:45 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Data Reform Bill to Finally End Cookie Pop-Ups and Fine Spam Callers

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport  has finally laid out the full details of how it plans to kill off the annoying cookie banners on web browsers. Co-conspirators will know this has been a longstanding campaign of Guido’s – a small, yet meaningful test of the UK’s regulatory sovereignty after Brexit. Switching to an “opt-out” model, rather than blasting users repeatedly with pointless pop-ups, was obviously a more elegant solution. Turns out the government agrees.

Having trailed the move in the Queen’s Speech, and now following a consultation, DCMS has explained how it plans to repeal the Cookie Law for good:

“…the government intends to legislate to remove the need for websites to display cookie banners to UK residents. In the immediate term, the government will permit cookies (and similar technologies) to be placed on a user’s device without explicit consent, for a small number of other non-intrusive purposes. These changes will apply not only to websites but connected technology, including apps on smartphones, tablets, smart TVs or other connected devices.

In the future, the government intends to move to an opt-out model of consent for cookies placed by websites. In practice, this would mean cookies could be set without seeking consent, but the website must give the web user clear information about how to opt out. This would allow the government to realise its ambition to improve the user experience and remove the need for unnecessary cookie consent banners. The opt-out model would not apply to websites likely to be accessed by children.”

The move will be put forward as part of the planned Data Reform Bill, which promises a “clampdown on bureaucracy, red tape and pointless paperwork”. The bill will also remove the need for smaller businesses to have data protection officers, and whack up fines for spam callers and nuisance texts. Finally…

mdi-timer 17 June 2022 @ 10:00 17 Jun 2022 @ 10:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Boris’s FCDO Eurovision Gratitude

On Tuesday the PM paid a visit to Lancaster House for the FCDO Heads of Mission conference, alongside Ben Wallace and Liz Truss. Plenty of diplomats took to Twitter to show off the very serious topics that had been under discussion: “changing global context”, “how to better protect and promote UK interests”, “international development strategy” all among them. Word reaches Guido it wasn’t a wholly serious affair, however…

Taking to the stage for a sit-down interview in front of the best and brightest of Britain’s diplomatic core, Boris apparently had the crowd in stitches thanking them for their hard and vital diplomatic work… in securing Britain’s weekend Eurovision result, adding he could barely believe it when France gave us “douze points!”. Guido also hears that while DCMS’s Eurovision priority is helping Ukraine in any way they can to host next year’s contest, an offer to host it in the UK if they can’t has been made…

mdi-timer 19 May 2022 @ 15:47 19 May 2022 @ 15:47 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Civil Service Scrap Prince Andrew Flag Birthday Honours

On Tuesday, Guido flagged the dilemma facing the Civil Service in coming days: how to deal with celebrating Prince Andrew’s forthcoming birthday a week on Saturday. According to the official Civil Service guidance, they were set to fly the Union Jack for the disgraced royal on the 19th

Lo and behold, today the guidance was quietly updated and one royal’s name is no longer on the official list:

Randy Andy won’t be getting it up on his birthday this year…

mdi-timer 11 February 2022 @ 15:24 11 Feb 2022 @ 15:24 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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