Friday, 16 September 2011

The BBC’s domination of news on television, radio and the internet is to be examined by Ofcom as part of a wider investigation into whether limits should be set on how much of the news market one organisation can control.

Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, has ordered the regulator to consider whether the BBC’s rules of governance, which are meant to ensure impartiality and diversity of opinion, are sufficient to exempt it from any cap imposed on news providers.

The BBC’s news output is consumed at least once a week by 81 per cent of adults in Britain, double the proportion that use the next largest source, ITN. The BBC’s share of viewing of national and international TV news grew from 60 to 70 per cent from 2002 to 2009.

Ofcom studied the news market after News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB, which the company withdrew in July at the height of the row over phone hacking at the News of the World. It found that the combined company would have had too great a share by controlling Sky News and four national newspapers, including The Times. Ofcom recommended that Sky News be separated from the rest of News Corp.

However, the regulator also found that the BBC would still have had almost double the audience share for news even if News Corp retained Sky News. According to Ofcom’s estimate of news consumption, the BBC has 37 per cent and an enlarged News Corp would have had 22 per cent. The latter figure was calculated before the closure of the News of the World.

Ofcom’s report on the BSkyB bid said that the BBC, in common with other media
organisations, “may have an institutional view which can shape its editorial decisions”. But it added that the BBC’s Royal Charter required it to be independent.
Source: The Times (£)


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