Harriet Harman

Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election and I am no longer an MP

Speech to the Oxford Media Convetion - 26/02/2014

Oxford Media Conference
Backing creators and investing in content
26 February 2014

Harriet Harman MP
Shadow Secretary of State
Department of Culture Media and Sport

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Good to be here

I want to pay tribute to the work of IPPR on the Media and to congratulate you on your excellent report and say how much I welcome your emphasis on the long term challenges for the UK Media  - which gives us here today the opportunity to focus on the long term strategies that are needed to address those challenges.

It’s right to look ahead because
* The successes of the media and our creative industries actually arise from years of investment and support – It’s got to be a long term strategy.
* It’s a fast changing environment - technologically and commercially so we have to look ahead
* And because our media - and particularly its content - is massively important for our future economic growth

The next 12 months is going to be a very important time as we work, with you, to develop in our manifesto for 2015 a vision for the media and the creative industries at the heart of our public policy agenda.


No-one should be in any doubt about the importance of the media and our creative industries.

After a devastating recession, precipitated by the Global Financial Crisis, the key questions are
*how we can grow our way forward,
*how we are going to pay our way in the world,
*how we are going to grow our way out of the cost of living crisis.
*where are the future jobs going to come from
*which sectors are going to take us forward
*how we can rebalance the UK economy

The government has a responsibility to identify and support – not the individual companies – but the sectors which will lead that.  It’s not about the old style, identifying individual companies - picking winners, but it is about picking winning sectors. 

The creative industries are a winning sector that we, across all the departments of Government, will put at the heart of our strategy for jobs and growth. In the last century we talked of the March of the Makers.  For the decades ahead we need to be talking about the March of the Programme makers.  So this is a task as much for BIS as it is for the DCMS.  And I work closely with our Shadow BIS Secretary of State, Chuka Umuna

The creative economy accounts for over 2.5m UK jobs – that’s one in 12.  It accounted for £15.5b in exports, making us the second biggest global exporter of creative industries after the US.  And our creative industries have the potential to grow at double the rate of any other sector.

So, this is a sector where a long term strategy and investment will only lead to more growth, more jobs. 

You can’t talk about the creative industries in purely economic terms because they mean so much to cultural identity, the sense of place, to people’s quality of life.  But in economic terms they more than justify the central place they will have in Labour's strategy for jobs and growth.


We must take advantage of the massive opportunities that the new digital economy brings – and we also need to ensure that all citizens can benefit from these opportunities. 

The Labour Party has commissioned an independent review led by John Woodward working with an advisory board of practitioners from the creative industries, to explore policy options for the UK creative industries, looking at the opportunities and changes brought about by the internet and the rise of the digital economy.

It will make policy recommendations that both encourage the development of the creative industries in the digital world and effectively protect citizens.


One of the key answers to the question you’ve just been considering – UK content where is the growth coming from? -  is “from people”.

For its long term future, creativity and innovation has to draw on the widest pool of talent, commitment and ability.  That is right in principle.  Everyone should have the opportunity to engage in such a dynamic and attractive sector.  But it’s essential in practice too. It can’t flourish if it’s narrow and exclusive.  Creativity cannot thrive if its overwhelmingly male, middle class, metropolitan and white.

Ensuring access and opportunities is a challenge for the creative industries themselves. And one which we want to see pursued actively.   But it is also the responsibility of government.

So our creative strategy will embrace creativity in education and opportunities for young people.

We must ensure that the curriculum equips young people with the skills derived from arts subjects and exposes them to the experience of excellent arts performance.  Creativity must flourish in the curriculum – including the practical elements essential to overall development and to nurturing the next generation of young actors, artists, musicians, creators and directors.

And that must be not just schools but after-school and school holiday experiences too. All this is a task for The Education Department every bit as much as for the DCMS - and I work closely with Tristram Hunt, our Shadow Education Secretary on this.


This must be for young people from all backgrounds and from all regions.

You are spot on on this in the report you've published for this conference.

One of the big concerns, and future threats to the creative industries, is the narrowing of the access not just because of what’s going on in schools but the danger of losing a generation of young people because of what’s going on in the regions.

Despite the effort of the Arts Council and valiant striving by local councils, it is desperately hard to protect the arts and culture in deprived areas when it’s those very areas that are being hardest hit by the cuts.

London is a massive and important engine of growth in the creative industries.  But so too must be Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, Birmingham – every region. 

The local council leaders of what are called the "core cities" meet regularly and they determined to play their part in the growth of the creative industries in the future.  Their important role will be very much part of our strategy.

And I have set up a network of "creative councillors" - councillors in all local authorities whose task it is to make sure that as they struggle with the cuts of today there is, in every locality, a survival and growth strategy for culture, media and arts.

There has to be a very specific aspect to strategy for UK media and the creative industries which is about "outside London" – that is a role for public policy and it’s a role you in the industry too.


One of the key contributors to that must be the BBC.  It's well placed to do that with its centres in Scotland, Wales and the North West and roots in every region.

I very much welcome the commitment that Tony Hall has made that the BBC will be a hub generating and partnering creativity not just in London but in all our regions, in Scotland and in Wales.

The fact that we have the BBC as an institution which is able to do that is just one of the many reasons for our unswerving commitment to it. 

The BBC, like any organisation, has its faults.  Tony Hall acknowledges that.  We will point them out and demand that they are addressed.  But it is a huge, priceless asset.   We'll be supporting the BBC, not picking it apart and that is very important as we approach the renewal of the license fee and Charter Review.


We must have proper protection for the valuable content created by the BBC and others in the industry.  And that means a tough Intellectual Property Regime which is rigorously and unambiguously enforced.  This is more than just a private property issue between the rights owner and those who seek to use it.  It’s a public policy imperative.  The intellectual property regime is the foundation for future investment. So we must have an IPO which is a bold champion of IP.

And we need to back creators with a proper regime for reward for investment in content creation through transmission fees.


It is anomalous that the BBC and other public service broadcasters have to pay Sky for the transmission of their programmes. 

I'm glad to see, through discussions, Sky has already reduced their transmission fees but it should not be for viewers to pay twice....once through the license fee and again through the transmission fee.  It’s impossible to explain to anyone outside the industry that it’s not Sky who pays the BBC and ITV to carry their programmes – it’s the other way round! That can't be right.

Work needs to continue on this.


Because the media and creative industries are massively important to the economy and are developing and changing rapidly, there is a proper role for regulation in ensuring that there is, and remains, an open market and free competition. 

And there is an absolutely crucial role for regulation because they are vital to every person, business and public service in this country as consumers.  Their interests must be properly protected and they have a key interest in the market serving their interests.

Regulation must be robust enough to deal with ensuring that the global media giants don't squeeze new entrants out of the market and robust enough to protect individual consumers.

Ed Miliband has made it clear that whether it’s the energy market or the banking sector, regulation must ensure genuine competition and protect consumers.  And the same goes for the media and telecoms too.

So Ofcom must be strong and effective in the public interest - able to make decisions and give effect to those decisions.  It must for example be able to make it easy for consumers to switch suppliers it must be able to publish information on complaints.

Of course Ofcom decisions must be open to challenge - legal challenge.  But we cannot have a situation where companies are able to invest so much in protracted court challenges that Ofcom has to look over its shoulder not at the legality of its decisions, but at the cost of, and time it takes, to assert that through the courts.  This is an issue of time as well as money.  In a rapidly changing environment, a regulatory decision can be frustrated by the length of time it is stayed by a legal challenge, as well as the cost of the challenge.  So we are looking at how the costs can be capped as well as the process streamlined.  We must have regulatory effectiveness and certainty.

Protecting open competition in the media market and protecting plurality is important not just for fairness to new entrants and to consumers but is fundamental to our democracy.  I welcome the emphatic assertion by the House of Lords Select Committee that media plurality is important for a healthy democracy and the emphasis they too give to the importance of the role of Ofcom.


This is a fast changing situation.  But there are two things that are not going to change.

*Firstly, the importance and centrality of media and the creative industries to the economy and the citizen, and

*Secondly, our commitment to put this at the heart of our manifesto.

I look forward to working with you.


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