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6 J. Media L. 1 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/joomaw6 and id is 1 raw text is: DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/17577632.6.1.1

COMMENT AND ANALYSIS
Observations on the House of Lords Select
Committee on Communications Report on Plurality
Alison Harcourt'
On 4 February 2014, the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications pub-
lished a report on Media Plurality.' The report was stated to be a response to the Leveson
report, the report of the European Commission's High Level Group (HLG) on Media
Freedom & Pluralism, the (attempted) acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation, and
the government's consultation on media ownership and plurality.2 Given that the Lev-
eson inquiry was an inquiry into press conduct, not media plurality as such, and that the
EC's HLG concentrated on the promotion of media freedom vis-a-vis state intervention,
the House of Lords' report, with its proposal for a new assessment for media markets,
was clearly intended to feed into the government's consultation on media ownership and
plurality. Hence, the recommendations of the report were designed to be incorporated
in the government's revision of the 2003 Communications Act. The key proposal is the
establishment a more flexible approach to controlling media concentration based upon
continual monitoring of media plurality by the communications regulator Ofcom. If
this proposal is adopted, the Lords' report recommends that it would not be logical to
retain the current 20/20 rule in the current Act as it runs counter to their opposition to
fixed limits.3 This supports Ofcom's own recommendations both in its submission to the
House of Lords consultation and to the Secretary of State's office.4
University of Exeter, UK. All websites accessed June 2014.
1 House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, Media Plurality, 1st Report of Session 2013-14.
2  Ibid, 5.
3 The '20/20 rule' prevents a newspaper group with more than 20% of national newspaper share from
holding a Channel 3 licence or a stake in a Channel 3 licensee that is greater than 20%.
4 Measuring Media Plurality, Ofcom's advice to the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport
(2012), http:-/stakeleders.ofcon.oryg,ukconsultations/meauring plurality.

(2014) 6(1) JML 1-7

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