Hunt has requested that Ofcom assess how practical it would be to set limits on media ownership to protect plurality. He has also asked the regulator to recommend a framework for measuring plurality across different media.
This follows an Ofcom report published at the end of last year on the public interest test on the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corp, in which the regulator suggested that possible reform of the current framework around plurality may be required. Despite News Corp retracting its takeover proposition in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, the UK Parliament sees it as important to ensure an organisation’s control of the media does not make it able to influence opinions and set the political agenda.
The findings will be provided to the Secretary of State and given as evidence to the Leveson Inquiry by June 2012 and Ofcom is now inviting comments on the questions it has been asked by Hunt, including what the options are for measuring media plurality across platforms; what the best approach might be; whether it is practical or advisable to set absolute limits on news market share; what factors could trigger a review of plurality in the absence of a merger, and how this might be monitored and by whom; whether a framework for measuring levels of plurality could or should include websites and if so which ones; and whether or how it should include the BBC.