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 Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Party Chair, Liberal Democrats 3:31 pm, 23rd May 1995

In so far as the policy document will foster diversity and pluralism in broadcasting, it will be wholly welcome. I make no complaint at all about the time that it has taken to come forward with these measures, in a complex and rapidly changing technological environment. May I, however, raise two matters where I doubt that the Secretary of State's proposals will foster diversity and pluralism?

The first concerns the need to regulate the television access systems covering encroaching subscription and cable. The right hon. Gentleman will have noted what Mr. David Glencross, the chief executive of the ITC, said about the need to legislate in this sphere, but the paper speaks only of maintaining a review. Secondly, is it really satisfactory to allow the owner of 30 per cent. of newspaper coverage in a region to acquire a Channel 3 licence? It seems that there is a serious risk of regional dominance by a single owner, which would be unacceptable.

Finally, may I express my satisfaction that the Government have at last agreed to lift the restrictions on ITN ownership above the 50 per cent. level, which always seemed artificial?