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Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK


UK

TV watchdog fills top job

Broadcasting is on the verge of massive change

The new chairman of Britain's TV taste and decency watchdog has been named as Lord Holme of Cheltenham.

The move sees the 63-year-old peer switching to the Broadcasting Standards Commission from another TV watchdog - the Independent Television Commission - where he was deputy chairman.


[ image: Lord Holme: Balance between freedom of expression and responsibilities]
Lord Holme: Balance between freedom of expression and responsibilities
It comes less than a fortnight after Culture Secretary Chris Smith indicated that TV regulators would be rationalised to avoid duplication.

Mr Smith plans to introduce new broadcasting regulations in the next Parliament, particularly in the light of increasing convergence between TV and the Internet.

Lord Holme takes over from Lady Howe in the £48,110 a year role, which has been vacant for six months.

Close to Blair

Mr Smith said: "Richard Holme's judgement, abilities and wide experience will be invaluable to the commission in its important, continuing role and will help it meet the challenges ahead in what is likely to be a period of rapid change for UK broadcasting.

"The time he has spent as deputy chair of the Independent Television Commission will be of great benefit to the BSC's future dealings in advising broadcasters and their regulators, improving co-ordination between the various bodies and ensuring that the public interest is represented in broadcasting as a whole."

Lord Holme, a Liberal Democrat peer, worked closely with former party leader Paddy Ashdown and was the party's election campaign chairman in 1997.

He played a key role in increasing co-operation between Labour and the Liberal Democrats and has close links to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Host of challenges

Lord Holme will serve in his new post for four years, starting work on 1 October for the equivalent of three days a week.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission is the only body which covers all television and radio - the ITC focuses on just independent stations.

Lord Holme said the commission faced a host of challenges, including digital technology and the proliferation of broadcasting channels.

He said: "In this new environment, standards could so easily be eroded. We must always balance the freedom of expression with the responsibilities which go with it.

"The Broadcasting Standards Commission must reflect the changing broadcast environment and the expectations of viewers and listeners, so that it gives a correct expression of the public interest and society's 21st century values."



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