Ed Vaizey appointed UK broadband minister

Ed Vaizey has been appointed the UK's new minister for broadband.

In a surprise U-turn, the Government has announced that the Tory frontbencher, who was to have served as minister for architecture, is to become minister for culture, communications and creative industries – making him the man responsible for ensuring the speedy roll-out of a super-fast fibre optic broadband network throughout the UK.

The job puts Vaizey in the hotseat, after the government hinted yesteday at plans to finance the initiative in its coalition policy document:

"If necessary, we will consider using the part of the TV licence fee that is supporting the digital switchover to fund broadband in areas that the market alone will not reach."

Commenting on the document, a BBC trust spokesperson said: "We note the reference to the possible use of an element of the licence fee on broadband roll out. We look forward to discussing this with the Government."

Another aspect of the new role Vaizey certainly won't be looking forward to is implementing the controversial Digital Economy Act.

The two parties that make up the UK's governing coalition were at odds over the widely criticised legislation in the run-up to the election - the Limp Democrats objected to large portions of the Act, while the Tories were broadly in agreement with New Labour.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, yesterday's coalition policy document avoided promising a wholesale dismantling of the Act - though many of the Act's more draconian provisions, such as the requirement for ISPs to hand over the data traffic logs of suspected pirates, are already being watered down. A clarification of guidelines that exempts smaller ISPs has been criticised by some as a creating a safe haven for copyright infringement.

Vaizey's appointment today comes after THINQ predicted Mr Vaizey as the likely successor to Stephen Timms, who held the position in the last Labour government.

The announcement was praised by the Independent Networks Cooperative Association chief executive Malcolm Corbett, who said: "We are delighted. Ed knows what he is talking about and it is good to have a minister who knows about and cares about the issues."