Letter: Labour's plans to review media ownership

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is not often that I am accused of both maintaining the status quo (View from City Road, 10 August) and changing Labour Party policy (leading article, 10 August) on the same issue in the same newspaper on the same day.

Your City correspondent is closer to reality. Labour's present position on media ownership was established by Ann Clwyd during 1993. Labour advocates no relaxation of changes to existing media ownership restrictions until a thorough review of the operation of current regulations is undertaken. That position is unchanged and the review is being conducted.

We have established three clear principles to guide that review. First, that UK regional and national companies are enabled to produce the maximum number of programmes and to generate the maximum revenue and employment for the regions in which they operate.

Second, the quality and standards for which UK television is world-renowned should not be compromised in the pursuit of a more aggregated commercial television market.

Third, that the maximum choice is available to service users both locally and nationally from a diversity of information, entertainment and educational sources that broadly reflect their diverse tastes and preferences.

Labour will publish more detailed proposals once the review is complete. Concentration of ownership in the newspaper industry remains a major concern. It is crucial to our democracy that a wide diversity of information sources remains available to the public at both a local and national level. Both Robin Cook and I have called upon the OFT and government ministers to investigate the pricing practices of the newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Black. I have met with journalists' representatives to discuss the issue and taken their views into consideration. To suggest otherwise is to entirely misrepresent the position.

Yours faithfully,


MP for Redcar (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

10 August

The writer is Shadow Secretary for National Heritage.