Media ownership rules could be relaxed

Rules on local media ownership could be relaxed to help news providers struggling with the recession under proposals published today by Ofcom.

Current rules prevent one company from owning more than one type of media - newspaper, radio station or TV channel - in a particular area.

Ofcom said that in the interests of maintaining a range of regional news sources, no company should be allowed to own a local paper with more than 50 per cent market share, a radio station and the ITV licence in an area, but a combination of two of these would be acceptable.

The watchdog is to hold a consultation on this proposal and on removing rules on local radio ownership so that one company could run all the commercial stations in a given area.

Research showed that listeners were happy for this to happen as long as the BBC continued to provide an alternative source of local news, Ofcom said.

The regulator's review comes after communications minister Lord Carter recommended local media ownership rules be changed in his Digital Britain report.

Despite the growth of the internet, traditional media retains its importance, with TV the main source of local news for 49 per cent of people surveyed by Ofcom, newspapers for 24 per cent and radio for 12 per cent.



Ofcom said action was needed to help broadcasters and newspapers struggling with financial pressures caused by dwindling advertising income and increasingly fragmented audiences.

Today's paper said: "Commercial radio has been particularly hard hit by falling advertising revenues and yet audiences continue to value local commercial stations for their local programming.

"The central challenge for regulation is to secure the delivery of local radio content, while at the same time ensuring a viable commercial sector able to adapt to the digital world."

A second consultation will consider proposals for creating a new three-tier structure to radio, with regional stations allowed to share programming in return for providing a version of themselves on the national digital radio network - effectively creating new national radio stations.

Local stations could be allowed to share programming in return for a greater commitment to news during the day, and Ofcom said it hoped a new tier of ultra-local community radio stations would develop in the future.

"These proposals are broadly deregulatory, and are aimed at sustaining delivery of local content, increasing choice and diversity of radio services, and ensuring an economically robust commercial sector," Ofcom said.



The consultation on cross-media ownership will close in September and the one on restructuring radio in October, with Ofcom due to make its final recommendations to the Government in November.

Any change to the ownership rules would require a change in the law.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before