Newly appointed U.K. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries delivered the opening keynote at the London Tech Week conference on Monday with a promise of “stable digital regulation.”
Dorries, whose full official title is Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said that she would deliver on the U.K. government’s digital regulation ambitions, set out in July by her predecessor Oliver Dowden. Broadly, the regulation aims to actively promote innovation; achieve forward-looking and coherent outcomes; and exploit opportunities and address challenges in the international arena.
“I intend to carry on that good work which has already been achieved. As your new digital secretary, I’ll stand back where I need to — but I’ll also act where I need to,” Dorries told the gathering. “However, as much as it’s about government doing all of those formal things I’ve just mentioned, it’s also about cultural change.”
Dorries said that despite the pioneering discoveries and scientific breakthroughs in the U.K., the country is still seen by some institutional investors as “stuffy.” “Well, that era is officially over to this government,” Dorries said. “It doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter where you came from, what matters is who you are. You are the entrepreneurs of today, and we are on your side, and we’re ready and waiting to celebrate your success with you.”
Earlier, Dorries described her appointment last week as a “baptism by fire,” addressing the largest technology conference in Europe within less than a week of her taking charge. She talked up the rapid growth in the U.K. of “unicorn” companies — privately held startups valued at over $1 billion.
“It took us 24 years to create our first 20 unicorns. We’ve already matched that in the first six months of this year,” Dorries said. “We now have more than France and Germany combined. And the U.K. tech industry has raised £13.5 billion ($18.6 billion) in the first half of the year — almost three times what was invested in the same period last year.”
Dorries’ shock appointment was as dramatic as they come in the U.K. She replaced Dowden in a cabinet reshuffle as the great and the good of the British television industry were gathered at the Royal Television Society’s convention at Cambridge. Dorries is no stranger to the TV world, having previously appeared in ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!” and Channel 4’s “Tower Block of Commons.”
Industry observers will be keenly watching how she gets along with the BBC, with the broadcaster’s director general Tim Davie calling for a “grown-up dialogue” with the government to discuss the future of the U.K. creative sector.
Dorries will also be scrutinized for her handling of Channel 4’s proposed privatization.
The U.K. government’s new requirements for “Britishness” of television programming will also be implemented under Dorries’ watch.