Since the publication of the Leveson Inquiry report just over a year ago, the formation of a new self-regulatory body for the press has dominated the policy debate about its implementation. However, Inquiry proceedings and the report’s recommendations also highlighted another important area for policy reform: the control and measurement of media plurality and ownership.
Although outside the limelight, policymakers have paid attention to Lord Justice Leveson’s suggestions in this area. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) launched a media plurality consultation on 31 July and is expected to respond in the coming months. The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications also just finished hearing evidence in its inquiry on the same issue. The time seems ripe for a thorough debate leading to possible reform of media plurality policy, assuming the consultation and inquiry are not just going through the motions.
In the interest of opening up the debate beyond Whitehall and Parliament, the LSE Media Policy Project and the University of Westminster’s Media Power and Plurality project have teamed up to produce a special blog series on media plurality. The series of posts will be jointly curated by Sally Broughton Micova (LSE MPP) and Judith Townend (University of Westminster) and will appear on both blogs.
Media plurality policy is not just about ownership limits and concentration. Cross-media ownership rules and other competition based-policies are challenged by convergence within media industries. At the same time, changing audience and advertising patterns are threatening traditional business models.
In this series authors will cover issues such as the implications of convergence, options for stimulating plurality in the current environment, and the mechanisms with which to measure ownership and plurality.
There will also be discussion of some of the specific proposals that have been made to the inquiries, which are expected to report early next year.
The series has no set number of posts, and we would be happy to accept further contributions, so please feel free to get in touch with us at LSE MPP or the Westminster Media Power and Plurality project with your ideas. And, of course, you can join the debate in the comment section beneath the posts, or on Twitter: @LSEMediaPolicy and @mediaplurality.