U.K. Media Watchdog Launches Consultation into Ownership in British Media

LONDON – U.K. Media watchdog Ofcom is launching a consultation into ownership and plurality in the British media, following the failed takeover of satcaster BSkyB by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.

Government culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked the media regulator and competition watchdog to gather evidence on whether or not it is possible to set limits on media owership to protect plurality.

It will also look at potential ways of measuring media plurality.

Towards the end of last year, Ofcom’s report on the public interest test on the proposed acquisition of Sky by News Corporation, the regulator suggested that possible reform of the current framework around plurality may be required.

Ofcom is now asking for comments from interested parties on a wide range of issues including optinos for measuring media plurality across platforms and whether or not it is practical or indeed advisable to set absolute limits on news market share.

Another area is what could trigger a review of plurality in the absence of a proposed merger – this is currently the only way questions of plurality are presently raise - and who might monitor such activity.

It will also be asking interested parties whether or how it should include the BBC in its analysis.

Written submissions are due by Nov. 17, Ofcom said.

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