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Disney hires former culture minister
as media adviser

LONDON - The Walt Disney Company has confirmed that the former culture secretary Chris Smith is to advise the company on issues of media and communications policy.

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Smith, who is still the Labour MP for Islington South, was ousted from his position as the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport after the June general election. He was replaced by Tony Blair favourite Tessa Jowell.

In his new role as a senior adviser at Disney, he will be "advising on matters of UK public policy in relation to Disney's film and television businesses, and the future of media and communications regulations", according to the company.

One issue Smith is likely to be advising on is BBC's plans for its digital channels for children. Disney has already been arguing that the BBC should face the same regulations as other broadcasters. Smith has expressed similar opinions, saying that the BBC should be subject to the rulings of the new media watchdog Ofcom.

Smith joined Disney this month, waiting the requisite six months required by Whitehall before former ministers may take up a commercial role. He will be working with Cindy Rose, managing director of the Walt Disney Company UK and Ireland, and also with David Hulbert, president of Walt Disney Television International.

The appointment has raised questions over how much of Smith's knowledge of the inner workings of the department and the BBC's future plans will be used for Disney's commercial advantage. He can reportedly expect to receive between £50,000 and £100,000 a year for his work.

"Chris's unparalleled knowledge of the UK media industry is a huge asset and we look forward to working with him," Hulbert said.

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