On October 23rd, 2014, we updated our
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Section 391 of the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”) requires Ofcom to review the media ownership rules (“MO rules”) at least every three years and, as a result of that review, make recommendations to the Secretary of State if in Ofcom’s view changes to the MO rules are needed. This report contains the results of the first Ofcom review of the MO rules. Background 1.2 The MO rules are designed to strike a balance between ensuring a degree of plurality on the one hand and providing freedom to companies to expand, innovate and invest on the other. The first is vital for democracy since plurality of ownership helps to ensure that citizens have access to a variety of sources of news, information and opinion. The second can also benefit citizens and consumers by providing a basis for delivering higher quality programmes, greater creativity and more risk-taking.
Current Media Ownership Rules The Communications Act 2003 includes restrictions on the ownership of television channels, newspapers and radio stations in the UK with the objective of safeguarding plurality in media ownership. The most important commercial restrictions relate to cross-media ownership. These prevent any company that runs a national newspaper with more than 20 per cent of the total national market or that runs local newspapers which together have more than 20 per cent of the local market from holding a commercial television licence nationally or in the areas where the 20 per cent share is held. The rules also prohibit commercial television companies (such as ITV) from holding more than a 20 per cent share in a national newspaper company. Restrictions also apply to ownership of local newspapers to prevent a television company or the holder of a local radio licence from acquiring a local newspaper that has more than 50 per cent market share in the local area. Similarly, there are restrictions on owners of local newspapers with more than a 50 per cent market share owning local radio licences in their area. Local radio ownership is also restricted so that at least two local licences must be separately owned (in addition to the BBC).
Local Media - Ofcom’s proposals The current position: National radio multiplex rules - prohibit one person from owning more than one digital audio broadcasting multiplex; and Local cross-media ownership rules - prohibit the acquisition of a regional Channel 3 licence if: a person runs one or more local newspapers with an aggregate market share of more than 20 per cent ownership of two of each local analogue radio licences, local newspapers and regional Channel 3 licences in a relevant coverage area; and the ownership of a local analogue radio licence, regional Channel 3 licence with a potential audience that includes 50 per cent of the audience of the analogue radio service; and one or more local newspapers which have a local market share of 50 per cent or more in the local coverage area. Ofcom's recommendations are: Deregulation of local radio and radio multiplex services - by allowing local commercial radio stations to be owned by a single operator in a local area, as well as deregulation of local and national radio multiplex ownership by allowing one operator to own more than one multiplex; and Partial liberalisation of local cross-media ownership rules - with a restriction subsisting only on the ownership by one operator of the local radio station, local newspapers (with 50 per cent or more of local market share) and a regional Channel 3 licence.
Does censorship exist in the UK?
Noam Chomsky “If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.” (Noam Chomsky)
Privacy and the Public Interest What is in the public interest?