David Puttnam appointed 'Digital Champion' by Minister for Communication Pat Rabbitte

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18 December, 2012

Welcoming the fact that Lord Puttnam has agreed to take on the role, Minister Rabbitte said “I have asked David to be an ambassador for digital in Ireland.  We all need to be challenged, to be imaginative about how digital technologies and digital media can improve our quality of life, our skills, our health, our education, our employability and our prosperity.  Through his careers in cinema, broadcasting and teaching David has always been a genuine champion and early adopter of digital technologies.  He is passionate about their ability to positively transform society, for example in education.    I am encouraging him to provoke us to think differently about how we use telecommunications in the home, in the wider economy, in learning and in delivering public services to citizens of all ages.”

Commenting on his decision to accept the appointment, David Puttnam said:

  • Ireland has been at the forefront in a number of areas of digital adoption…for example in teacher engagement with online resources.
  • There is however considerable untapped potential in the digital area…thinking ‘digital’ in all aspects of policy, business, and daily citizen activity, presents huge opportunities, not just for efficiency and effectiveness, but to help unlock the extraordinary creative potential that exists in this, my adopted country.
  •  I’m delighted to take on this role in Ireland, and to assist in what is a huge and ever more important endeavour – ensuring that society realises the full potential unleashed by the ‘digital world’ and in so doing, becomes that much more connected, inclusive and creative.”


The Minister noted that it is his intention to publish a National Digital Strategy in the New Year, which will highlight the potential of digital to transform society.  The first phase of the Strategy will target specific segments of society, aiming to improve digital adoption and realise the economic and social benefits that digital technologies can bring. “The appointment of David as Ireland’s Digital Champion is a key measure under the proposed National Digital Strategy. He has long been an evangelist for digital adoption, particularly in the education sector, and I hope that he will bring his considerable expertise and vision to this important policy initiative”, Minister Rabbitte said.

The appointment of a Digital Champion is particularly timely, as Ireland assumes the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.   A number of Member States have already appointed Digital Champions, and it is expected that David Puttnam will address a number of key events during the Irish Presidency, including the Digital Agenda Assembly to be held in Dublin in June 2013.

EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes welcomed today’s appointment of Lord Puttnam, saying  “The role of the Digital Champion is to lead, to inspire and to motivate. David  Puttnam will do all of this with gusto and flair. His is an inspired choice for this role. I am really looking forward to working with him."

Danny McCoy, CEO of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation, said, “Digital technologies are the fuel for 21st-century innovation and, given Ireland’s industrial base, we are uniquely placed to utilise these technologies to improve products, services and the way we communicate across all levels of society. The appointment of a person of Lord Putnam’s stature will further bolster Ireland’s internal reputation in this key area and will be warmly welcomed by the business community.'

Welcoming today’s announcement Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Patrick Prendergast congratulated  Dr Puttnam on his appointment as an excellent champion in advancing the area. “Digital media and digital technologies have major benefits for society. As a university  we are engaging in leading edge research in telecommunications in the national telecommunications research centre, CTVR, at Trinity, in further progressing such technologies and in embedding them in everyday life for the benefit of all. ”

Commenting on the appointment, Dr Anne Looney, CEO of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment said “This appointment could not come at a better time for Irish education.  Having Lord Puttnam as Ireland's digital champion is particularly welcome given his track record in challenging 'chalk, talk and test' models of schooling and leading new and fresh thinking on the future of learning in the digital age”.

Robin Webster, CEO of Age Action Ireland said “Age Action Ireland warmly welcomes the decision to appoint Lord Puttnam as Ireland's first Digital Champion.  This will provide leadership in the campaign in raising awareness of the importance of the digital revolution. It will give great encouragement and support to the many community groups helping older people to learn to use computing to benefit themselves, their families and their communities”.

Minister Rabbitte concluded: “In addition to David Puttnam’s outstanding film production record, he has a strong track record in the area of communications, education and digital engagement. These attributes make him an ideal candidate for the role of Digital Champion”. David Puttnam is the chairman of Atticus Education, an online education company based in Ireland, which delivers interactive seminars on film and a variety of other subjects to educational institutions around the world. He is also the present Chancellor of the Open University, following ten years as Chancellor of The University of Sunderland.    In 2002, David Puttnam served as Chairman of the UK Joint Parliamentary Committee on the 2002 Communications Bill.   A full biographical note is attached, for information.

The appointment of our Digital Champion was marked this afternoon in Dublin at an event in Government Buildings at which the appointment was welcomed by key stakeholders present. 

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