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The E-Envoy's office has just published a frightening insight into how the Government intends to forge closer ties with ordinary people.

The draft public consultation document into the future of digital TV (DTV) sets up the Government as content provider and also gives the green light to those who feel the State is there to mollycoddle its citizens.

It's frightening on two levels - first, the further creation of state-run media in the UK unchallenged by independent analysis, and second, have we really forgotten the last time the Government got involved in content and entertainment? Remember the Dome? Hmm?

Take this extract from the report: "Government could use DTV to alert people to crises, such as broadcasting flood warnings and supplying access to supporting information and services."

Why? Anything more than a light shower these days warrants near hysteria and a weather warning on the telly. Even gardeners are told when their tender perennials are at risk from frost.

Can there have been anyone who was unaware that last weekend the UK was to be battered by storms? Do we really need the Government to join in on the act as well?

Here's another snippet from the report: "Another example could be the provision of interactive public information broadcasts, on subjects such as crime prevention. In this example, links could be provided to more detailed information, such as advice on how to secure the home or local crime statistics, and there could be the opportunity to participate in community discussions. All this will be in a package that is familiar to users, and delivered to them in the comfort of their homes."

Before you know it you'll be watching Eastenders as some urchin thieves a mobile phone from a punter in the Square and you'll then be lectured about how best to prevent street crime. You'll also be told that the fear of crime is actually worse than crime itself and that, in real terms, under this Government, crime has fallen.

It gets worse. As Dot Cotton downs her second sherry in the "Queen Vic" Nanny Government pops up and reminds you of the correct number of units you should drink per week. There'll also be a link to a menu about the threats of passive smoking and concerns about leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Talking of menus, as Barry settles down to a sneaky fry-up in the caff, the Government's nutrition adviser will appear warning of the perils of eating a diet high in fat.

It'll be no better watching Coronations Street - or any other soap come to think of it.

Flick over and settle down to some sport and you can bet your National Insurance payments for a year that the Government will still be there to spin some message or other.

Australia vs England in The Ashes? Don't forget sunscreen and a hat next time you go out in the sun.

Man Utd playing in Europe? Travel over to the Continent by all means but remember if you bring back booze and cigs it must be for personal use. Otherwise Customs will have little choice to impound your goods, seize your car and send you packing with a slap and a fine.

Get the picture?

Oh, you think we're joking? Here's one of the policies put forward in the document Digital Television: a policy framework for delivering e-government services to the home: "Government should work with broadcasters, programme makers and Internet Service Providers to integrate links to e-government services with relevant programme content."

You couldn't make it up. ®

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