Switched on

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The Independent Online

There is little doubt that the law has failed to keep up with the pace of developments in the media and communications industry. The explosion in broadcasting brought about by digital technology, the growth of internet-based media outlets and the seemingly unstoppable momentum towards the creation of one ITV company means that the Government's White Paper on media ownership is long overdue.

There is little doubt that the law has failed to keep up with the pace of developments in the media and communications industry. The explosion in broadcasting brought about by digital technology, the growth of internet-based media outlets and the seemingly unstoppable momentum towards the creation of one ITV company means that the Government's White Paper on media ownership is long overdue.

But, even as ministers modernise their policies, it is encouraging to hear that some important principles have not been neglected. In particular, we are heartened to see indications that the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, and the Trade Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, are inclined to keep the door firmly shut on the monopolistic ambitions of some and to retain the ban on non-European ownership of terrestrial broadcasters.

For there is little to be said for the economic benefits that accrue from media consolidation if the price is the removal of choice, the erosion of plurality in debate and the granting of virtually unparalleled power to one individual. The Government is, for once, standing up to magnates such as Rupert Murdoch, and for that we should applaud it.

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