Purnell new U.K. media minister

New prime minister appoints post

Blighty’s new prime minister, Gordon Brown, on Thursday appointed James Purnell secretary of state for culture, media and sport, ousting Tessa Jowell, who held the job for six years.

A former policymaker at the BBC, Purnell, 37, was briefly creative industries and tourism minister under Jowell, and he is well connected in U.K. media circles.

Purnell worked for then-Prime Minister Tony Blair as a media adviser and is a former colleague of Ed Richard, head of U.K. communications regulator Ofcom, which Purnell is credited with conceiving when he worked for a media think tank in the 1990s.

Among the topics awaiting the attention of the Oxford-educated Purnell are the future of Channel 4, under attack by many for allegedly diluting its role as a pubcaster, and the increasingly fraught question of satcaster BSkyB’s power in the U.K. marketplace.

The new minister will also need to keep his eye on digital switchover, which starts this fall, and whether the success of digital terrestrial TV platform Freeview may delay the take-up of high-definition TV in Blighty due to a dearth of broadcast spectrum.

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