Culture, media and sport secretary Tessa Jowell is willing to reconsider proposals for reform of Britain’s radio sector contained in the draft Communications Bill, judging by recent comments.

The radio industry has been lobbying ministers and the joint select committee scrutinising the bill to alter the suggested scheme, as radio broadcasters feel they would be more tightly regulated than any other section of the media.

At issue is the ‘three plus one’ rule, whereby all areas must have three independent operators alongside the stations offered by the publicly funded BBC. Jowell argues that this guideline was included at the behest of the radio sector.

“The local ownership rule – three plus one – was offered by the industry last year. But the industry consensus seems to have broken down or changed,” she told the Westminster Media Forum.

“My commitment is to the protection of plurality. I’ve made it clear that I'm open to other solutions as long as they are coherently presented and protect plurality.”

Following the minister’s comments, the Commercial Radio Companies Association is expected to draw up alternative suggestions and submit them to the select committee.

However, Jowell insisted she would not budge on the proposal in the bill to allow ownership of UK media firms by companies from any nation, despite recent speculation the government was mulling a U-turn [WAMN: 16-Jul-02].

“The policy in the bill is not lightly arrived at. We believe it to be right for broadcasting, for the public, for the wider industry and for the country as a whole,” she continued. “Under this government, Britain is open for business.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff