Dorries’ elevation to Culture and Sport may be bad news for Channel 4 and the BBC

In theory the UK’s secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (quite a bagful if you think about it) should play a big role in the fortunes of the ad and media industry. But there’ve been ten of these in the past ten years (recent high profile health secretary Matt Hancock served in the department once) so none of them have left that much of a mark.

And, in any case, when it comes to big media decisions or sport more senior figures tend to weigh in. Now there’s another newcomer in the rather unlikely person of Nadine Dorries (above), Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire since 2005. Something of a maverick, Dorries is best known for appearing in reality show ‘I’m a celebrity..’ and being dumped by the Tories for bunking off to Australia to film it.

She returned to make an impact here and there, not least by describing David Cameron and George Osborne as “posh boys” who didn’t know the price of milk. Current PM, and her promoter in the ongoing cabinet reshuffle, Eton-educated Boris Johnson, also fits this description. When questioned Boris can’t even remember how many children he has.

Dorries, who’s replaced the seemingly capable Oliver Dowden, has been a harsh critic of the BBC in the past and this may have recommended her to Johnson as the review of the BBC’s future funding comes nearer (although she’d have to last a little longer than her predecessors to oversee this.) More imminent is the decision on whether or not to flog Channel 4 to the private sector. Did Johnson think Dowden was veering away from this?

As far as adland is concerned, Dorries, who’s avowedly “anti-wokery,” may be less inclined than some in the party to burden advertisers, agencies and others with yet more regulation. But, some time or other, betting and gambling advertising (and marketing) will surely have to be curbed. This impacts Dorrries’ other main focus, sport, too of course.

Advertisers and agencies may be breathing a cautious sigh of relief. Channel 4 and the BBC won’t be.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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