Thursday, 29 January 2009

Digital Britain: Government will look at changing local media merger rules

The interim Digital Britain report published today says the Government will look to see if a change in the local media merger regime is "desirable or necessary."
The report says (Action point 14) the Government "will invite the OFT, together with Ofcom and other interested parties to undertake an exploratory review across local and regional media sector and make appropriate recommendations."
It also says: "At a local level, the challenges for news are intense...Local media groups are seeking to make the transition to digital business models but argue the need to consolidate in order to have the scale and sustainability to do so.
"They argue too that the media merger regime does not take account of the potential for competition across boundaries between newspapers and other media. This position, they argue, will become increasingly unsustainable as we move into a fully Digital Britain. Such arguments need to be tested against current evidence."
Leading regional publishers, like Trinity Mirror, and the Newspaper Society have been lobbying for a relaxation of the merger and ownership rules. Reform of the regulations could lead to more consolidation in the industry and for local newspapers to play a bigger part in local broadcasting.

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