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Ofcom receives deluge of submissions on media plurality

UK media regulator Ofcom reportedly received over 45,000 submissions to its review of media plurality by last Friday’s deadline. The review was initiated following News Corp’s bid to acquire 100% of pay TV operator BSkyB, which was aborted as a result of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Ofcom received about 50 submissions from organisations and individuals, with the bulk of the remainder resulting from public campaigns organised by groups Avaaz and 38 Degrees, with the majority of the submissions related to the campaigns focusing specifically on the power wielded by News Corp and the Murdoch family in the UK.

Ofcom had originally been asked to assess the impact of the News Corp bid for Sky on media plurality grounds, which had led to News Corp offering to spin off its Sky News channel into a separate organisation. However, following the collapse of the bid as a result of the hacking scandal, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt asked the regulator to look into ways to protect plurality more widely, including how practical it would be to set limits on media ownership to protect plurality. Ofcom invited comments on what were the options to measure media plurality, whether it was practical and advisable to set absolute limits on news market share, what could trigger a plurality review in the absence of a merger, whether the framework to measure plurality should include websites and whether or not the framework should include the BBC.