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Thread: Tories plan 'big bang' media revolution

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    Arrow Tories plan 'big bang' media revolution

    Tories plan 'big bang' media revolution




    We have been waiting for a while for the Tories to reveal their media policy. Now, it would appear, we have more than a glimpse of what they propose should they win next year's election.

    The three major changes of its so-called "big bang" revolution would involve the deregulation of local media ownership, a freeze, or cut, to the TV licence fee from 2012 onwards, and radical reform of the regulator, Ofcom.

    Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Daily Telegraph that the abolition of cross-media ownership would revive local media.

    It would also create more competition for the BBC both nationally and in the regions, where newspaper publishers and TV companies are battling for survival.

    "There is a massive crisis in the media industry," Hunt is quoted as saying. "We will strip away the regulations in the same way that big bang revolutionised the City to make it a major financial centre of the world."

    He believes that "heavy-handed regulation", "over-paternalist" and/or "micro-regulation" has not only stifled internal media innovation but is the reason why major international media companies have failed to invest in Britain.

    So Ofcom will be stripped of its policy-making functions and be limited to making judgments in areas such as "decency, impartiality and taste".

    In a speech in Manchester on Thursday Hunt will put more flesh on the bones of this argument, though it does not come as much of a surprise.

    Clearly, lobbying by the Newspaper Society - the publishers' trade body - has been successful. It has been pressing for years for ownership rules to be relaxed because owners believe more consolidation is essential to save their industry.

    They also believe that survival depends on their being able to control several platforms within the same circulation area.

    According to the Telegraph, Hunt will say: "Because our regulation is stuck in the pre-internet dark ages, we have left our media industries exposed and vulnerable to huge market shocks.

    "It has taken the combination of a bitter advertising recession and the structural changes wrought by the internet for this to sink home...

    We need to allow media operators more flexibility to own businesses operating on both the same and different platforms."

    What is more surprising is Hunt's apparent belief that "major investors in Silicon Valley who [are] looking for the next big idea" might be interested in coming to Britain if we replaced the current rules with "nimble and light touch regulation."

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    Arrow Re: Tories plan 'big bang' media revolution

    Tories pledge change in commercial media



    Monday, November 16 2009,

    By Andrew Laughlin,


    The Conservative Party has pledged to rip up "dark ages" regulation preventing cross-media ownership to create new conglomerates providing TV and radio services in the UK.

    Current rules prevent groups from owning more than one newspaper, TV channel or radio station in a local area. However, the Tories want to scrap these restrictions and instead free up private enterprise to solve the "crisis" in commercial media.

    According to The Daily Telegraph, shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt further wants the proposed changes to increase competition for the BBC's national and regional coverage on radio and TV.

    Under the suggested arrangement, media regulator Ofcom would be stripped of its power to make policy and instead re-focused solely on dictating issues of "decency, impartiality and taste".

    The Tories believe that the changes would have the same effect on the media as the 'Big Bang" deregulation of The City in 1986, which triggered major growth in the financial sector.

    "There is a massive crisis in the media industry because of heavy-handed regulation. It is why no major international players have come forward to buy ITV and major US networks are not interested in investing in Britain," said Hunt.

    "They are driven away by the top down paternalistic regulations which are strangling our creative media industries. We will strip away the regulations in the same way that Big Bang revolutionised the City to make it the major financial centre of the world."

    In a speech due to be delivered in Manchester on Thursday, Hunt will stress that TV and radio advertising has declined by 12% over the past 12 months. The tough conditions have led to eight commercial radio licenses being handed back, with 100 local newspapers closing down and 900 jobs being lost.

    He will therefore argue that the current arrangement of "micro-regulation" in the media has restricted commercial operators from being able to draw a profit.

    "Because our regulation is stuck in the pre-internet dark ages, we have left our media industries exposed and vulnerable to huge market shocks. It has taken the combination of a bitter advertising recession and the structural changes wrought by the internet for this to sink home," he will say in the speech.

    "The start must be massive reform of the cross-media ownership rules for local media operators. We need to allow media operators more flexibility to own businesses operating on both the same and different platforms."

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