by Kathryn Rockwell

Ofcom has invited comments on how best to measure media plurality, following a consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The DCMS Secretary of State requested for Ofcom to lead the development of a measurement framework by determining a set of indicators, and deciding upon an appropriate metric. This framework will allow better assessment of UK media plurality in the future.

Many believe that the market alone cannot ensure media plurality, but exactly what measures to take is a contested topic, and an area that has already seen much discussion. As Damian Tambini noted last week, since 2012 The European CommissionThe House of Lords Select CommitteeOfcom and DCMS have opened consultations on media plurality.

While the UK scores relatively well in terms of media pluralism policy and development, it also exhibits some significant risks, according to a new report. A pilot study of the EU’s Media Pluralism Monitor identified risks involving net neutrality, the protection of journalism, access to public service media by cultural and social groups, and ownership/control of media by politicians.

In addition to these concerns, a focal point of future discussion will be the role of online delivery and digital intermediaries such as social networks, app stores, search providers, and content aggregators. The UK Government has outlined its position that online should be included in the measurement of media plurality, however there has yet to be discussion between experts and stakeholders on how that should be done.

Ofcom announced that it will develop its framework in consultation with industry, and invited stakeholders to provide input. The regulator further announced that it would issue a consultation in 2015 on the proposals for the indicators to include in the measurement framework.

The call for input document is published on Ofcom’s website, and comments may be submitted until 27 November 2014.

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