Media Ownership

Why is it important?

Media ownership regulation affects the ability of news media organisations to develop their businesses and adapt to the changes in the economic climate and the wider media landscape.  The controls affect the ability of news media publishers to acquire new titles, and to expand their news provision services across other platforms such as television and radio.

Current threats

As technology develops rapidly, news media publishers are increasingly exploring the potential to distribute news and information across multiple platforms including the printed newspaper, digital, radio and television. These technological advances have also allowed new competitors to enter the news media market and compete for audiences and advertising revenues.

Local media publishers in particular have felt that the current media merger regime does not adequately account for the realities of the local media market today.  In 2011, Northcliffe Media's attempted sale of seven weekly newspapers to KM Group was aborted after the Office of Fair Trading referred the sale to the Competition Commission, leading to the closure of several newspapers. Ofcom has since endorsed the local media industry’s position on the issue suggesting that the media merger regime needed to be modified and that local media should be excluded from its plurality review, but there is no evidence that this new approach has been adopted by the relevant authorities. 

Local media publishers in particular have felt that the current media merger regime does not adequately account for the realities of the local media market today.  The industry has called for review and reform of the competition and media ownership regime, including the cumbersome processes and approach of the Competition and Markets Authority, so as to reduce the obstacles, costs and time which impede news media companies’ transfer of titles and mergers

What is the NMA doing about it?

The NMA believes in a regime that affords news media publishers the flexibility to develop and enhance their businesses while maintaining a diverse and vibrant sector. The NMA will seek to improve competition authorities’ current approach to media mergers, particularly in relation to the local news media sector, and work to ensure that no additional burdens are placed upon the sector.