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PEGI to face possible new delay as political farce unfolds

While the Digital Economy Bill scraped through its second reading just before Parliament closed its doors before the General Election in May - the Bill that included the implementation of PEGI in the UK - it's possible that bringing it into law could face fresh delays.

That's because of a legal challenge by BT and TalkTalk - both companies are seeking a judicial review in order to clarify the act, the BBC is reporting.

That process would see the matter put before the High Court to determine the legality of the legislation, with the principal bone of contention being the file-sharing punishments.

According to the BBC both companies believe the Bill was "rushed through" with "insufficient scrutiny" - a point that Labour MP Tom Watson strenuously made at the time, both in Parliament and also during an ELSPA debate at BAFTA before the Election took place.

"If you make laws quickly, you make bad laws," he said then - prophetically - adding: "Shame on you both [to his fellow panellists, Ed Vaizey and Don Foster] and shame on my front bench."

At the time, now front bench minister Vaizey had responded by calling the plans - which include the 'three strikes' letters and internet suspension for offenders - "sensible and constrained," and that if the bill didn't pass next week, "a new government would find it very difficult to push through legislation of that complexity."

But with the new coalition government's about-turn on tax relief promises, the UK industry's two main political objectives for 2010 - which both looked solid just a few months ago - have had the rug pulled from underneath them.

While proposals for the implementation of the PEGI system have now long been agreed, tacking it onto the Digital Economy Bill means that it's extremely unlikely to see the light of day before early 2011 - but maybe longer, depending on whether or not BT and TalkTalk are successful in their appeal.

While the tax breaks work put in principally by TIGA appear dead in the water, at least the PEGI implementation should still happen - we just don't know when. Meanwhile the acknowledged problem of strong enough parental education on game classification continues.

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