Media / Talk of the Trade: Whitehall snoozes

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The Independent Online
HOWEVER, Lord Hollick's eagerness for a level playing field contrasts with the Government's inertia: there is still no go-ahead forthcoming for Channel 5. And although the interdepartmental committee on cross-media ownership has been reviewing the current mess since February, there is little chance of legislation allowing newspaper companies to buy broadcasters outright until 1996.

On the face of it this stasis is also bad news for Channel 4, whose current campaign to abolish payments to ITV also looks doomed in the short term. But there is talk of compromise in the air, with Channel 4's payments - pounds 38.2m last year - being capped at a reduced level. A cap would continue to give Channel 4 a degree of protection while safeguarding its status as a public corporation.

This government lethargy should not delay the White Paper on the BBC, since it is a Royal Charter and relatively uncontroversial, but much depends on the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle and whether a new Heritage Secretary would want to review it.