Part of the driving force behind the Digital Britain report is the way in which search engines and social and gaming networks based outside the UK are draining the advertising and content revenues that previously funded every broadcaster and publisher other than the BBC.
Google is Britain’s most powerful brand, has over 90% of the On-line search market and takes well over 50% of the £3.4 billion on-line advertising market that has eclipsed the revenues of commercial television as well as the dead tree press.
It is also the second greatest beneficiary of the always-on, free content, free access, advertising-funded world that most consumers want.
The greatest beneficiary is, of course, the consumer.
When did you last use a search engine other than Google?
The “real” test the Digital Britain Strategy will be in the implementation. Can harness the power of Google to pull through the investment in infrastructure necessary to give us all world-class resilient broadband. It will fail if it does not, because Google now dominates the revenue streams necessary to underpin private sector investment in that infrastructure.
That should entail an economic, fiscal and regulatory framework within which Google makes more money for its shareholders from underpinning infrastructure investment and losing market share to partners who will help carry that cost.
Any other strategy will fail and/or be counter-productive.
And Google is more likely to find the answer than Whitehall.
P.S. I expect much good analysis and many excellent recommendations in the Digital Britain strategy and will look forward to eating my hat if it does indeed contains a credible strategy for working with the Elephant to mutual advantage.