U.K. industries get cash infusion

$3.6 bil will come from public funding pool

LONDON -- The U.K.'s media, technology and music sectors will be among the industries able to draw from a new €2.5 billion ($3.6 billion) public funding pool being set aside for investment "in the industries and high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future."

The fund was announced Wednesday by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling in his annual budget speech, which lays out government spending and taxation plans.

The budget also includes a $1.1 billion strategic investment fund to support advanced "industrial projects of strategic importance." While a third of that cash will be used to back low-carbon projects, the rest could be used for regionally important sectors and emerging technologies, such as digital businesses and biotechnology.

"It is vital to ensure the entire country and economy benefits from the digital age," Darling told the House of Commons. "So I am allocating extra funding for digital investment, to help to extend the broadband network to almost every community."

The broadband industry also is likely to be able to access the estimated $362 million originally designated to help ensure the nation's switch to digital -- which remains unspent by the BBC -- to bring Internet access to everyone in the U.K. by 2012.

The Treasury has called for talks between the government and the BBC Trust "on how the emerging underspend from the Digital Switchover Help Scheme can be drawn on to fund universal service and take-up."

The BBC Trust responded, saying it looks forward to working with the government "on the most effective and appropriate way to apply license fee payers' money to deliver this aim."
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