Jeremy Hunt confirms IFNC pilot scheme scrapped

In his first speech as culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt has confirmed that the budget for the IFNC pilot scheme in Scotland, Wales, North East England and Borders regions will now be used to fund a pilot scheme to bring superfast broadband to rural areas.

Hunt has not yet said where the pilots will take place, but did say that three ‘pilot testing schemes’ would be set up.

The IFNC pilot was a Labour scheme which was always opposed by the Conservatives, who promised to cancel it should they reach Government. It would have been funded through money to fund the digital switchover, as well as through the licence fee.

The winning consortia were announced in March, and would have recieved funding of up to £47million from the Government over two years.

Meanwhile, Hunt has also said that he will look to scrap local cross-media ownership rules.

Hunt will speak to media watchdog Ofcom to gauge whether current restrictions in cross media ownership can be scrapped in a bid to create new investment into local TV stations.

Nick Schott, head of UK investment banking at Lazards will also make an assessment of local TV over the summer which will then be followed with the publishing of a local media action plan.

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