Martin Le Jeune is a former head of public affairs for Sky and is author of To inform, educate and entertain? British broadcasting in the 21st century, which was published this week by the Centre for Policy Studies. You can download it here.
All the big broadcasting innovations have come under Conservative Governments. Like them or loathe them, that’s true of the start of ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Five. Where the natural tendency of Labour Governments is to restrict broadcasting innovation to protect the BBC (and because too much choice would "confuse" the voters), Conservatives have tended to be open minded – and to recognise that a little more challenge to vested interests is no bad thing.
It was a welcome sign when David Cameron suggested the freezing of the BBC licence fee last week. But Jeremy Hunt, the shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has kept his cards close to his chest so far on broadcasting – apart from some conventional pieties about the importance of public service broadcasting and the need to keep Channel 4 going through some funding fudge.
More radical thinking is possible. An incoming Tory administration has a big opportunity to challenge two of the great myths of the British broadcasting establishment: one, that the BBC has to do everything; and two, that we need more than one public service broadcaster.