Jeremy Hunt has been appointed secretary of state for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport in the new U.K. government by prime minister David Cameron. The role makes him a key government figure for the music industry.

Hunt held the shadow culture role in the Conservative team before the election and was widely expected to get the job if his party won. But in the resulting coalition with the Liberal Democrats - the first full coalition since World War II - not all shadow Conservative ministers took on the government jobs, as Lib-Dems were given five cabinet posts.

There may be concern that Hunt's beefed-up role includes responsibility in government for the London 2012 Olympics, which is likely to take up plenty of his time. The Olympics job was previously a separate post created for Tessa Jowell when she lost the culture brief.

But the main issue for the biz and the new administration will be the Digital Economy Act, and whether new deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will follow through on his election campaign pledge to repeal it. There were concerns expressed by Clegg's Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives about the legislation getting rushed through parliament in the so-called "wash-up" period last month.

At the time of Clegg's comments, the Liberal Democrats clarified that the party wanted to remove measures allowing for potential suspension of Internet accounts, but welcomed most of the measures and wanted file-sharing tackled.

Secondary legislation is required to bring into effect measures to block copyright-infringing Web sites. The Act was put through parliament by ministers at the department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where Liberal Democrat Vince Cable has just been appointed secretary of state.

A spokesperson for the department said it was too early to comment on the timetable for secondary legislation or any potential amendments to the law. There is no mention of the Act in the Conservatives' and Liberal Democrats' seven-page coalition agreement.

The parties' focus on other issues such as reducing the budget deficit is likely to deter them from completely revamping the Digital Economy Act. But the industry may have to keep up the lobbying to ensure that Web-blocking measures go through.

Party Policies

The three main political parties did not say a great deal about the music industry during the election campaign, and they ultimately agreed on issues such as a Europe-wide deal for term extension (up from 50 years) on copyright for performers; working to ensure that small venues such as pubs will not be deterred from staging live music by the current licensing rules, with a likely exemption for such venues; and support for high-speed broadband and the general principles of the Digital Economy Act in protecting copyright online.

"I think we can say that we've had very good support from all main parties and that all the main parties have understood both the need for the peer-to-peer provisions and the non peer-to-peer [Web-blocking] provisions [in the Digital Econony Act]," Geoff Taylor, chief executive of U.K. trade body the BPI, told Billboard.biz last month.

"We don't have a political agenda of one type or another, we think we can work with any of the parties and I'm pleased to say they appear to have understood the need to support the creative industries and the need to have these types of [anti-piracy] measures," he added. "I think we'll have to make the case to whoever is in government and we'll have to - as always - put forward lots of evidence as to why the action is needed."

'Early Schoenberg'

As for the individuals who have power to affect the industry, Hunt has not talked a great deal about the music industry. In a recent interview he spoke of his love of classical music - "more early Schoenberg than late Schoenberg" - and said he had engaged with modern operas.

His shadow deputy, the genial Ed Vaizey, is more of a modern music fan, having learnt to play drums as a boy and cited his love of the Specials.

"If I am lucky enough to get a job, it will probably be tomorrow [May 13]," he told the BBC. Before Hunt's appointment was confirmed, Vaizey said that Hunt "will be absolutely brilliant at that job."

The music industry has not traditionally benefited from the same sort of government funding as more worthy sectors of the arts - indeed many in the biz are proud to be independent of government. Conservative policy includes reforming the allocation of money from the National Lottery to the arts, which the party said has been cut over recent years.

Johnson Out Of Labour Race

As for the Labour Party, now in opposition, the former Home Secretary Alan Johnson used to play guitar in a mod band in the '60s and his son works in the music industry. But Johnson ruled himself out of the leadership race.

Andy Burnham, former secretary of state for culture, media and sport, is still a potential candidate. He plays guitar and "likes indie music" according to his biography. He has called for a return of the weekly chart countdown "Top of the Pops" to British television.

The music industry will now be gearing up to work with a new government, particularly on securing anti-piracy measures.

Richard Mollet, BPI director of public affairs, certainly had a novel way of building a relationship with the man who has just been appointed culture secretary: Mollet stood as the Labour candidate against Jeremy Hunt in the Surrey South West constituency, a safe Conservative seat.

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