The Media Reform Coalition has released a new briefing paper on what the Leveson Report recommends about media ownership and plurality. It notes that, as the issue of ‘statutory underpinning’ heats up, it is easy to neglect this key area of media policy. The MRC believes that ownership of the media is a crucial part of ensuring a fair, free and independent press.
The Briefing Paper notes that the Leveson Report has called for the development of a new system for both measuring and tackling media concentration of ownership (pp. 1461-1476). This It is a tacit acknowledgement that the existing regime has been inadequate in curbing ongoing concentration. The briefing identifies the key principles endorsed by Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations on plurality in light of proposals put forward to the Inquiry by the Media Reform Coalition.
The paper points out that
Unchecked media concentration over several decades has allowed some media groups to accumulate vast amounts of revenue and influence with adverse consequences for ethical journalism and democracy. One such consequence has been the development of intimate relationships between political and media elites in a way which, according to Lord Justice Leveson, “has not been in the public interest” (p.1956).
It suggests that Leveson’s recommendations, while avoiding explicit proposals for new media ownership rules, nevertheless highlight three key principles:
- A new method is needed for measuring plurality, focussing on the provision of news and current affairs and including online publications.
- Triggers for intervention should be “considerably lower” (p. 1470) than those appropriate to ordinary competition concerns and should address organic growth within media markets as well as specific mergers and acquisitions
- A new system should accommodate a range of remedies and forms of intervention.
The Media Reform Coalition coordinates the work of advocacy groups campaigning to protect the public interest in light of the Leveson Inquiry and Communications Review. More information can be found on its website