On both sides of the herring pond senior television executives spoke out Friday against plans by the US and UK governments to relax present restrictions on media ownership.

Stateside, Fox Network founder and former Hollywood studio boss Barry Diller told the annual conference of the National Association of Broadcasters: “There are real dangers in complete concentration. The conventional wisdom is wrong – we need more regulation, not less.”

Warming to his theme, Diller continued: “Conglomerates buy eyeballs. That’s it. They leverage their producing power to drive content, their distribution power to drive new services and their promotional power to literally obliterate competitors.”

Across the Atlantic, former ITV chief executive Stuart Prebble trained his crosswires on Rupert Murdoch’s conjectural bid for British commercial channel Five, currently jointly owned by Bertelsmann’s RTL and Lord Clive Hollick’s United Business Media.

The government’s decision to lift the ban that prevents any newspaper group from owning more than 20% of a terrestrial TV station was one of the most “craven” things it had ever done,” inveighed Prebble.

“It should not be allowed to happen; it will be one of the biggest mistakes in the history of broadcasting. When it comes to football, we will see the penalty kicked on channel Five and we will have to pay to find out if it's a goal or not.”

Britons are sceptical at the NewsCorp chairman's denial of interest in acquiring Five. “We are not interested in terrestrial,” Murdoch proclaimed [WAMN: 12-Nov-02], suggesting that the real threat to UK television may come from Viacom devouring ITV.

[To the best of our knowledge, WAMN is the sole news source, on or offline, to have remarked on the curious congruence of the Bush and Blair administrations’ respective media ownership policies [02-May-03]. Could it be that such international harmony is more than coincidence?]

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff