Chris Smith, the former secretary of state at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport [a splendidly British cocktail of oxymorons] confirmed Monday that he has accepted a senior advisory position at Disney Television UK.

Said Smith, who was fired from his government position following the May general election: “I am taking up a role as an adviser to Disney. I will be advising them on their UK, film and television interests and their role in the UK regulatory process over the next few years.”

Insisting that his fee was “nowhere near” the £50,000 to £100,000 reported in the press, Smith raised his hands in pious indignation at suggestions he would pull strings on behalf of his new employer: “I won't be using my parliamentary position to advise in a way that gives them unfair commercial advantage,” he said.

But insiders believe Disney has hired Smith to help it wage war on the BBC’s plan to launch two children’s digital channels [WAMN: 14-Sep-01]. The BBC move is not to the liking of the family-targeting media mammoth which had lobbied vigorously but unsuccessfully against the public service initiative, seeing it as a direct incursion into its own backyard.

News source: