BECTU briefing Communications Bill: cross-media ownership - Channel 5

12 March 2003

BECTU briefing on the UK Communications Bill: cross-media ownership - Channel 5 - clause 342: Relaxation of Licence-Holding Restrictions

  1. BECTU opposes the lifting of cross-media ownership restrictions as between national newspapers and Channel 5.
  2. This would leave the way open for Rupert Murdoch's News International, with all of its existing interests in both national newspapers and BSkyB, to extend its reach into terrestrial television by owning Channel 5 as well. We believe such a bid would be highly likely.
  3. We acknowledge that the Government has introduced requirements which, in the event of a change of control of Channel 5, oblige OFCOM to review the affects on regional production, original production and news. In our view, this is still an entirely inadequate response.
  4. The undesirability of a Murdoch-owned Channel 5 is because this would represent a significant concentration of media ownership with huge opportunities for cross-promoting the channel in newspapers and on satellite TV. This would be to the direct detriment of ITV and Channel 4, which have stronger public service obligations but no equivalent cross-promotion opportunities.
  5. We agree with the Puttnam Committee proposal that a specific plurality test should be introduced into the rules governing media mergers. We believe any merger between the Murdoch interests and Channel 5 would clearly fail such a test.
  6. In terms of the Bill as it stands, we believe there is no current alternative but to propose the deletion of Clause 342 (1) and (2), which gives effect to the relaxation of restrictions in respect of Channel 5.
Proposed Amendment
Clause 342 (1) and (2)
page 297, lines 36 to 47
Delete in entirety
Last updated 17 March 2003