FRIDAY 20 APR 2012 2:12 PM


Speculation that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will be abolished after the Olympics poses doubt over the future regulation of the communications industry.

It is suggested that the media sector will become part of Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), while other departments split between local councils and the Department of Health.

Harriet Harman’s article in the Evening Standard last night stated that there are “well-sourced rumours in Westminster” that the DCMS is no longer needed, but the suitability of the BIS to handle issues plaguing the media sector raises a number of questions.

Jim Rothwell, associate director at Insight Public Affairs says: “On the one hand, were the departmental responsibilities of DCMS to be subsumed within other parts of Government, with those for the creative industries moved to BIS, they would end up being sponsored by a Department with far greater political clout and weight – arguably a good thing.

“On the other, the creative industries would collectively go from being a big fish within a relatively small Departmental pond where they have well-established institutional relationships, to a much larger pool fighting for Ministerial interest and attention.”

DCMS has consistently supported creative apprenticeships, particularly within the PR industry. A report by Frontier Economics shows the communications sector contributes £50bn to the economy, accounting for some 4.1 per cent of UK Gross Value Added.

Supporters of the speculated closure look to the savings that could be made. The Institute of Economic Affairs reported that closing down the DCMS could save around £1.6bn, if all spending ceased.

This would give the government the scope for tax cuts, such as reducing the rate of corporation tax by a further 2%, to the same as the basic rate of income tax.

While the future status of the DCMS remains ambiguous, its website states the following with regard to the Communications Review:

“The Government is undertaking a wide-scale review of the regulatory framework supporting the UK communications sector. The review will focus on establishing ways in which the Government can drive growth and innovation in the sector.

Our aim is to strip away unnecessary red tape and remove barriers to growth. The wider public interest will underpin the way we address these issues.”