Select Committee on Communications First Report



New inquiry: Media ownership and the news

The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications is announcing today a major new inquiry into media ownership and the news.

This will be a two part inquiry. For the first part of the inquiry the Committee is calling for evidence on changes in how people access the news, changes in the way news is provided, changes in news agendas and how concentrated media ownership affects the balance and diversity of news in a democracy.

For the first part of the inquiry the Committee would particularly welcome evidence on:

How and why have the agendas of news providers changed? How has the content of news programmes and newspapers altered over the years?

How is the way that people access the news changing? The Committee is interested in national and regional trends and figures for television, radio, newspaper and on-line news consumption.

How has the process of news gathering changed? The Committee is interested in the process of news production, the prioritisation of budgets and the deployment of journalistic resources.

What is the impact of the concentration of media ownership on the balance and diversity of opinion seen in the news? Does ownership have an impact on editorial priorities and on news values such as fairness, accuracy and impartiality?

How should the public interest be protected and defined in terms of news provision? Are the public interest considerations set down for Ofcom in the Communications Act 2003 enough to ensure a plurality of debating voices in the UK news media?

Later in the year the Committee will review the evidence received and will then issue a separate call for evidence focusing on the concentration of media ownership, on cross-media ownership and on the regulation of media ownership. The Committee does not yet want to receive evidence on these points.

26 June 2007


Media Ownership and the News—Part 2

The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications is announcing today a second call for evidence as part of its major inquiry into media ownership and the news.

The first call for evidence was issued on 26 June 2006 and since then the Committee has received much useful evidence on the trends in news provision and consumption and the impact of ownership on the diversity and independence of the news.

The second part of the inquiry will now focus in more detail on the regulation of news and ownership. The Committee will take into account Ofcom's 2006 review of media ownership rules.

The Committee would welcome evidence on the following questions:

    1  Are the requirements in the Communications Act 2003 relating to the quality, quantity, scheduling and impartiality of national and regional broadcast news appropriate? Are they sufficient? Will they be appropriate and will they be sufficient after digital switchover?

    2  Are the public interest considerations for media mergers set down in section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002[130] strong and clear enough to protect a diverse and high quality news media? Are the conditions under which the Secretary of State can order a public interest investigation appropriate?

    3  Do current national and local cross-media and single sector media ownership rules set out in UK legislation do enough to ensure a high quality and diverse news media[131]? Or now that most news organizations are moving towards multi-platform operations, have these rules outlived their usefulness and relevance? In this context are there effective actions that can be adopted by news organizations to protect the public interest?

    4  Do any problems arise from having four bodies involved in the regulation of media markets (the OFT, Ofcom, the Competition Commission and the Secretary of State)? Are there any desirable reforms that would improve the effectiveness of the regulatory regime?

    5  Has the lifting of all restrictions on foreign ownership of UK media affected the quality and independence of the UK news media, or will it affect it in the future? Has the UK industry benefited, or does in stand to benefit in the future?

13 December 2007

130   As amended by section 375 of the Communications Act 2003. Back

131   The legislative provisions we are particularly interested in are those covered by Ofcom's triennial review of media ownership rules: Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Act 1990 (restrictions on the holding of broadcast licences); Schedule 14 to the Communications Act 2003 (restrictions of the holding of certain radio licences, cross-media ownership and additional provisions relating to religious bodies); Sections 280 and 281 of the Communications Act 2003 (Channel 3 news provider); Section 283 of the Communications Act 2003 (Channel 5 news provider); and Part 3 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (insofar as it relates to intervention by the Secretary of State in connection with newspaper or media mergers). We are also interested in views on the requirement for Ofcom to review this area every three years (Section 391 of the Communications Act 2003). Back

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