The paper then considers how UK strategy on media ownership controls has evolved over the last thirty years, increasingly reliant on the ‘media plurality’ test incorporated in the Enterprise Act 2002. It suggests that a radical re-appraisal of the test is necessary in light of the perceived risk of political intervention and the length and uncertainty surrounding the two investigations that have taken place to date. The paper examines the innovative ?share of reference? test developed by Ofcom in the News Corporation/BSkyB takeover bid and contrasts it with techniques employed in the United States and a number of European countries. It suggests that, of the various forms of measurement that can be employed in this context, consumer exposure appears best able to address converging media markets and provide, an admittedly indirect, indication of media influence. It similarly suggests that fixed ownership limits, though currently out of fashion, provide a relatively clear and effective form of control, reducing potential concerns over agency capture and political influence. It concludes by identifying certain areas where further coordinated research is desirable and notes the potential role that can be played by the European Union in this context.
In many countries you have absolute bans. Some people just cannot own a newspaper, for instance, an advertising agency cannot own a newspaper. There are pure entry issues. Then there are safeguards—like the 2X3 rule. In virtually all jurisdictions, if you own a newspaper and a TV station, you cannot own radio stations.In many of these markets, there are ownership and market-share restrictions. You cannot own more than 20% or 30% across different media. In some places, if a newspaper has more than 30% or 40% market share, the regulator starts chasing him. We want plurality. And, we will, in the interest of bigger goals of nurturing democracy, impose restrictions on ownership across forms of media, and specific ownership in particular forms and definitely in terms of market share so that it does not sway public opinion.