UK House of Lords Encourages Media Regulation

30 June 2008

LONDON: A new report from the House of Lords – the upper chamber of the UK Parliament – argues media ownership should be more closely regulated to ensure a select group of companies and individuals don't enjoy "disproportionate influence".

A 139-page investigation into media ownership was issued by its Communications Committee, headed by former Tory cabinet minister Lord Norman Fowler.

The document argues that existing rules be strengthened, requiring newspapers and broadcasters acquiring competitors to show that the takeover would not be to the detriment of "news gathering and investigative journalism".

Fowler is also concerned that while the internet has expanded the amount of news available, "when you go into it the amount of news originated from the internet is very small – services like AOL and MSN just repackage news from elsewhere".

The report further states that media regulator Ofcom should carry out a "public interest test" if major online organisations acquire a share in UK news providers to make sure there is "no suspicion of political involvement".

In addition, the report suggests commercial broadcasters be required to provide public service broadcasting in order to ensure a diverse news output.

Comments Foiwler: "You can't preserve newspapers by regulation and you can't guarantee they don't go out of business, so if you want to ensure a range of voices in news, PSB is fantastically important."

The government is not bound by any of the committee's findings, but Fowler nonetheless opines that "a lot of it doesn't need the statute book, and the government might accept one or two recommendations, but an important debate has been started".

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff