... “when you’re in opposition, all you have is a megaphone and the media in order to make your argument,” he admits.
But whilst in pre-election megaphone mode, Hunt belaboured the BBC and the UK’s largest telco, attacking the former's pay and perks for top managers and claiming BT’s plans for a superfast broadband network were inadequate.
Faced with the realpolitik of government and personal accountability, however, Hunt has become sweet reasonableness personified, vowing that the BBC’s editorial independence will “never” be undermined by the Con-Lib government, and paying a public tribute to BT ceo Ian Livingston for outlining post-election plans to expand the company’s superfast broadband network.
Hunt argues that the “single most important thing” the BBC does is hold politicians to account. On the debit side, however, he posits that the BBC’s “financial power” (a £3.6 billion annual licence fee compulsorily levied on taxpayers) must be a “positive thing that helps boost plurality in the market, rather than something that inadvertently crowds it out”. He intends to encourage commercial competition within the BBC at national and local level.
Meantime, secretary Hunt's ministerial gofers are examining ways of scrapping ITV's “contract rights renewal” regulations that cap ad rates - a restriction imposed half-a-century ago when the company was the nation's sole commercial broadcaster.
Hunt is also sympathetic towards ITV's statutory obligation to produce regional news, and has tasked Nicholas Shott, head of UK investment banking at Lazard, to consider how a modernised regulatory framework could nurture a new generation of local TV stations.
The new secretary also intends to relax cross-media ownership rules, a move he believes will enable the creation across England of between 30-40 new media companies - formed by local newspapers, radio groups and new media entrepreneurs - which will supply ITV with local TV news programmes.
Hunt rules out a government subsidy for any of these idealistic goals given the need to cut public spending.
All pigs fuelled and ready for take-off, Sir!