The Department of Culture Media and Sport put out a press release overnight Friday/Saturday in which – officially – it no longer seeks to defend the indefensible (known to you and me as the disproportionate and unnecessary powers given to local authorities by live entertainment provisions of the 2003 Licensing Act which the DCMS itself devised) and now states that it intends to move in the direction of freeing up the rules.
From the tone of the press release there has probably been a change in personnel, finally? Maybe the civil servants who spent years in their bunker defending the 2003 Act have been replaced.
What the DCMS is actually doing is to do what it always does, to launch yet another consultation (nice work if you can get it)… but the tone does seem to have changed.
The conservative minister John Penrose is championing the freeing-up, but downplaying any significance in this process of the Lord Clement-Jones (Liberal) Live Music Bill. Politics eh. When Guardian journalist Dan Sabbagh got this story leaked last week, his piece didn’t even mention it. (The comments on that piece have some interesting tales from Hackney).
It’s a subject where, frankly, the news flow, sometimes even from the same person, is confusing. Feargal Sharkey of UK Music, talking to the Morning Advertiser has predicted doom while popping up a week later in the Guardian to defend the new DCMS line. Possibly no more than a sign that to UK Music this issue is peripheral, not really part of the day-job, compared to, say, copyright protection.
UPDATE: The Live Music Forum Website throws in a severe note of caution, and is basically suggesting that the leaks and the DCMS Pres Release are an Orwellian exercise in Doublethink.
Ready for this? Paragraph 2.25 of the consulation is suggesting that currently licensed venues will need to go through more rather than fewer hoops to avail themselves of the liberalisation. HERE’S THE POST
Can the DCMS civil servants be quite so cynical? Are they hanging yet another licensing minister out to dry?