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14 Nov 2002 : Column WA1

Written Answers

Thursday, 14th November 2002

Local Radio Services

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the ownership of local radio services. [HL69]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): After public consultation on the proposed radio ownership scheme, my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Trade and Industry have agreed that the policy on local radio ownership should ensure that in every local market with a reasonable range of services (three or more analogue stations) there should be at least two commercial radio operators and at least three commercial media voices across local and regional radio, television and newspapers.

For radio-only operators, maximum ownership will be limited to 55 per cent of a market, as defined by a points system. For significant cross-media owners (either the relevant regional Channel 3 licensee or a local newspaper owner with more than 50 per cent of the market in the coverage area of a radio station)

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there will be a stricter limit of 45 per cent for analogue services, although this will be applied only in areas where there are three or more overlapping licences.

No one will be allowed to own a local radio licence if they own both the relevant regional Channel 3 licence and more than 50 per cent of the local newspaper market in the coverage area of the radio station.

The necessary rules would be introduced by order once the Communications Bill is enacted, and a draft order would then be published alongside the Bill.

Zimbabwe

Baroness Park of Monmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What kind of administration they foresee for Zimbabwe in a post-Mugabe era. [HL49]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): Zimbabwe is a sovereign independent country. Any post-Mugabe administration would be a matter for the Zimbabwean people. In our view, Zimbabweans should be allowed to select the government of their choice freely and fairly. The UK Government will seek to work with a future administration that upholds the rule of law, respects democratic principles and promotes sound economic policies. Any post-Mugabe administration will need to address, as a matter of urgency, the catastrophic decline in the economy.

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