Government Launches Public Consultation on Media Ownership

21 November 2001

Britons will later this month be consulted on the thorny question of media ownership and whether the laws governing it should be liberalised.

The government plans to introduce a draft bill next year after two rounds of consultation [WAMN: 14-Jun-01}. The bill will incorporate a clear set of rules with the dual aim of stimulating competition and protecting consumers. At the same the extant Broadcasting Act's “personal and proscriptive” features will be excised.

One carefully camouflaged objective of the bill, some observers believe, is the neutering of Rupert Murdoch who dominates the UK newspaper industry via his ownership of upmarket broadsheets The Times and the Sunday Times and their equally downmarket tabloid siblings The Sun and the News of the World – between them controlling 30% of the national newspaper market.

Labour government ministers will not quickly forget The Sun’s banner headline boast after the party’s defeat in the 1992 general election: “It Was The Sun Wot Won It” [for the Conservatives].

Murdoch is frozen out of terrestrial broadcasting by the Broadcasting Act of 1996 which bars companies controlling 20% or more of the UK newspaper market from holding stakes greater than 20% of a terrestrial TV company.

News source: CampaignLive (UK)