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Carter takes charge of U.K. broadcasting

Former Ofcom, NTL chief named as minister

LONDON — In a surprise move that is likely to be greeted with relief by Blighty’s commercial broadcasters, former NTL topper Stephen Carter has been tapped as the U.K.’s broadcasting minister.

Carter, who was the first CEO of U.K. media regulator Ofcom, is expected to take a more commercial, forward-looking attitude to the broadcasting brief.

Key areas that need addressing are the future funding of edgy British web, Channel 4, product placement and deregulating ITV, the battling British terrestrial web that is negotiating a big reduction in its public service obligations with Ofcom.

“Stephen is someone who understands the commercial realities that media companies have to come to terms with,” said an industry insider.

In a statement, Carter, previously British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s strategy chief, said: “Given the global financial challenges, the communications sector has never been more important to our economy.

“This role is an opportunity to make a contribution to the growth of this key sector.”

While Carter will report to Andy Burnham, secretary of state at the U.K.’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport, his move to broadcasting minister is likely to signal a diminution of Burnham’s power in relation to broadcasting.

Arguably Burnham is more at home dealing with sports and music than media.

As CEO at Ofcom, Carter, who began his career in advertising subsequently running the London office of JWT, was highly respected by the U.K. TV industry.

Prior to joining the British government, Carter was group CEO of PR outfit Brunswick.