Cross-media Ownership

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 23rd May 1995.

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Photo of Stephen Dorrell Stephen Dorrell Secretary of State for National Heritage 3:31 pm, 23rd May 1995

My hon. Friend describes the document in terms that I do not recognise, and then goes on to demonstrate the importance of what it seeks to do: to concentrate on the policy objectives that we set ourselves.

The document concentrates on two key interests—plurality and diversity in the media market, and the equal and equivalent interest that the public have in strong and healthy media businesses. The proposals in the document are designed to change media ownership regulation in the service of those two objectives.

The important principle behind the funding mechanism for Channel 4 is that the people who signed contracts when the Channel 3 licences were awarded in the belief that they ran the risk of covering deficits in Channel 4, and in return for that participated in Channel 4 profits, should be entitled to the Government's protecting that interest, which formed part of the contract that they signed when the licences were awarded.

As for BT getting into broadcasting, the House will know that the Government's position is that it is important to restrain the growth of BT in that sector in the short to medium term at least, to allow other operators to set up competing distribution systems.

If my hon. Friend wishes to pursue the question of predatory pricing by individual newspapers, he will know that there are clear provisions in competition law within which that can be pursued. I am sure that the Director General of Fair Trading will look forward to hearing my hon. Friend's evidence.