The U.K. government is to develop a "Digital Britain" action plan in an effort to ensure the U.K. will be at the forefront of innovation and investment in the digital and communications industries.

The report will be led by the first minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, Stephen Carter. The government says the sector is worth £52 billion ($89.9 billion) a year to the economy.

Lord Carter's report will look at how to increase the rate of growth in these industries in the current challenging financial and market conditions. It will analyse issues around convergence and communications to develop a strategy for a fully digital Britain.

The launch of the study comes amid questions over the future of digital DAB radio in the U.K., after broadcaster Channel 4 dropped plans to launch digital services.

"Our ambition is to see Digital Britain as the leading major economy for innovation, investment and quality in the digital and communications industries," said Carter in a statement. "We will seek to bring forward a unified framework to help maximise the U.K.'s competitive advantage and the benefits to society."

According to the Department For Culture, Media and Sport, the strategy will focus on open markets; empowered and informed consumers and citizens; universal access to public service content; and a responsive regulatory framework.

Priorities in these areas include maximising broadband services, identifying the barriers to wider investment in digital radio and ensuring there is effective regulation covering intellectual property.

Secretary of state for business Peter Mandelson added: "The government is determined that the U.K. will strengthen its place as a word leader in the communications and digital technology sectors. For the present financial and banking crisis, Britain must get through the worst and prepare for the upturn. The digital economy will be central to this. The digital Britain report will lead the way."

The report will be published in spring 2009.