Digital Britain TV report expected on time

Despite appointment of new culture minister

LONDON -- Major government policy on broadcasting is still on track to be announced next week, the culture ministry said Monday, despite the process being thrown into chaos by the departure of the cabinet minister in charge.

The news that culture secretary Andy Burnham had been replaced in an emergency cabinet reshuffle percolated through late Friday as Prime Minister Gordon Brown battled to maintain political power in the face of opposition from within his own party.

Burnham will be replaced by health minister Ben Bradshaw, who picks up the reins as the government prepares to publish its Digital Britain report next week, which is expected to outline the future of broadcast policy and may open the way to unprecedented co-operation between the BBC and Channel 4 as well plans to shore up the ailing commercial broadcasters ITV and RTL-owned Five.

Asked if the publication of the report would go ahead as planned, a spokeswoman for the culture ministry said Monday: "That's the timetable that we are looking at. Obviously when there's a change of minister he will be looking at the policy, but we are working on that basis."

The report is expected June 16.

Earlier last week, Burnham told journalists that the Digital Britain report was "in its final stages," but declined to give further details.

The report, which has been put together by communications minister Lord Carter, will evaluate the U.K.'s future role in terms of communications infrastructure and broadband access, the future of public service broadcasting and measures to prevent copyright abuse and piracy.