Friday, September 14, 2007

“I am a hedgehog”, James Purnell MP

James Purnell MP, Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport

James Purnell MP is the Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport. Yesterday, in his opening remarks in a speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention, Purnell said:

“The fox, said Isaiah Berlin, knows many things. The hedgehog, by contrast, knows just one big thing.

The fox pursues many ends, often unrelated, sometimes contradictory, even at times, anarchic.

That anarchy may ring a bell in this room. Today’s converging media world is a friendly habitat for foxes: so much technological possibility, so many doors to let in content, so many chances to speak.

But actually, and I know you can clip this sentence to make me look very foolish indeed, I am a hedgehog. I know one big thing: that broadcasting will continue to be central to our democracy.”

I couldn’t resist the post's title! He went on to make quite an interesting speech: worth a read if you’ve a penchant for media analysis (usually a case of media commenting on media).

“The greater part of our thinking on regulation will therefore not be devising the minutiae of guidelines. It will instead be the articulation of clear goals, which can then be implemented flexibly.

Those goals would be, first, an open market, perhaps with a greater reliance on principles than on detailed rules. Second, the very best broadcasting should be open to everyone. And third, consumers should be in charge ...

It’s more complex now than it has ever been. The foxes are prowling. But the hedgehog’s point still stands. Democracy is enriched by diverse broadcasting, available to everyone. In the confusion of change, it will be the quality of the content you offer that will determine the fates in the future.

The future of broadcasting isn’t in my hands. It’s in yours. And you should be confident, as I am. Yes, the last few months have been gloomy. But maybe this conference is a time for optimism and resolve.”

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