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By Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones
By Lord Thurso
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With nearly four years as chair under my belt, I understand the key issues facing the DCMS committee

3 min read

High speed broadband, the future of the BBC, social media and gambling regulations, and sports club governance would be my priorities as chair of the DCMS committee

I believe select committees have the power to show the House of Commons at its best. They are where we can work across party lines, following the evidence presented to our inquiries and holding to account not only the government, but also important organisations from outside of Westminster.

For the last three and a half years it has been my privilege to chair the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, and I am standing for re-election to that position. The committee champions issues that affect our lives every day and celebrates the intrinsic value of culture and sport to society. We also have a responsibility to stand up for the public interest.  

“The UK should create a system of independent regulation to ensure social media companies act against harmful content and face real penalties if they don’t”

During my time as chair, we have held to account major tech companies like Facebook and Google, calling for greater action against harmful content and more transparency on how people’s data is collected and used.

We challenged the BBC on equal pay for its employees and free license fees for the over 75s, the Football Association about representing the interests of fans against bad owners of clubs, and held inquiries looking at how we combat racism and homophobia in sport.

We campaigned to stop rip-off touts buying and selling tickets online, and to support live music venues with relief on business rates.

In one of our most recent inquiries on Immersive and Addictive technologies we also highlighted the issue of video games addiction and called for the use of ‘loot boxes’ in video games to be classified as a form of gambling.

I hope the committee can also complete its report on the way contestants may have been exploited on reality TV, with particular reference to The Jeremy Kyle Show.

There are major challenges that the committee should focus on over the next few years, and I would highlight five in particular.

Firstly, high speed broadband has become a necessary tool for everyday life, and we need to make sure full fibre broadband is delivered to every home and business by 2025.

Secondly, in an era of digital content on demand and the rise of companies like Netflix, we need to understand what license fee payers want from the BBC and how it should be funded to deliver this.

Thirdly, the UK should create a system of independent regulation to ensure social media companies act against harmful content and face real penalties if they don’t.

Fourthly, we need to review the current gambling regulations, including those related to promotions and marketing, to protect more vulnerable people from harm.

Finally, the integrity and enjoyment of sporting competition requires effective governance to safeguard the long-term interests of both athletes and fans.

I also believe it’s important that select committees get out around the UK.  In the last parliament, we held live hearings in Sunderland, Dundee, Belfast and Manchester. I want us to hold more of these, including in Leeds where Channel 4 is establishing its new national headquarters and Coventry which will be the next UK City of Culture.

Damian Collins is Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe

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