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Tories question Labour's appointment of Ofcom chairman

LONDON - The Conservatives have questioned the appointment of yet another New Labour supporter to a high-ranking media job, following the appointment of former Labour peer Lord Currie as the chairman of the media and communications watchdog Ofcom.

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John Whittingdale, the new shadow secretary for culture, media and sport, said that while there was no doubt that Lord Currie has the qualifications for the job, he said it would be seen as another example of Labour's cronyism.

"Many people will undoubtedly see his appointment as another example of Labour cronyism. The reality is that Lord Currie will have to work hard to dispel the image of having gained his appointment through his relationship with senior figures in government, rather than because of his background and experience," he said.

Lord Currie is the third high-profile Labour Party member to be appointed to an infuential media role, following in the footsteps of Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, and Gavyn Davis, BBC chairman.

Lord Currie, who is Dean of City University, is known as an ally of chancellor Gordon Brown and a founding member of the Treasury's Panel of Independent Forecasters -- the so-called "Wise Men".

His new job is seen as one of the most powerful in media, overseeing the regulation of all broadcast media and communications, replacing five organisations: the Independent Television Commission, Oftel, the Radio Communications Agency, the Radio Authority and the Broadcasting Standards Commission.

Whittingdale was named shadow culture secretary earlier this week as part of Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith's reshuffle of the shadow cabinet.

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