PN260607Comms

Embargo: Immediate Tuesday 26 June 2007

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659

LORDS COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE TO PROBE MEDIA OWNERSHIP AND THE NEWS

The House of Lords Communications Committee have today launched a new inquiry into media ownership and the news.

The inquiry will be in two parts, with the Committee first focusing on changes in the way people access news, developments in the way news is provided and how concentrated media ownership affects the balance and diversity of news in a democracy. The Committee will then go on to consider the concentration of media ownership, cross media ownership and the regulation framework.

The Committee have today launched a Call for Evidence for the first part of the inquiry. A separate Call for Evidence will be issued later in the year for the second part of the inquiry.

At this stage the Committee are particularly seeking evidence on:

1. How and why have the agendas of news providers changed? How has the content of news programmes and newspapers altered over the years?

2. How is the way that people access the news changing? The Committee is interested in national and regional trends and figures for television, radio, newspaper and on-line news consumption.

3. How has the process of news gathering changed? The Committee is interested in the process of news production, the prioritisation of budgets and the deployment of journalistic resources.

4. What is the impact of the concentration of media ownership on the balance and diversity of opinion seen in the news? Does ownership have an impact on editorial priorities and on news values such as fairness, accuracy and impartiality?

5. How should the public interest be protected and defined in terms of news provision? Are the public interest considerations set down for Ofcom in the Communications Act 2003 enough to ensure a plurality of debating voices in the UK news media?

Commenting Lord Fowler, who chairs the House of Lords Communications Committee, said:

"There has been an increasing concentration of ownership in the media. We want to examine if this has had an effect upon news provision. There are important public interest factors here. In a democracy it is vital to have as wide a diversity of news as possible."

"There has been very little work investigating the impact of ownership on editorial priorities such as fairness, accuracy and impartiality. It is important to know what influence ownership has in order to make informed decisions on media regulation."

Notes to Editors

1. The House of Lords Communications Committee was formed in May 2007 to consider issues relating to communications and the media. It has since then been conducting a short inquiry into the Chairmanship of the BBC.

2. The Call for Evidence on the Committee's new inquiry into Media Ownership and The News can be found at:

http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/hlcommunications.cfm

3. The current members of the House of Lords Communications Committee are:

Lord Fowler (Chairman)

Lord King of Bridgewater

Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury

The Bishop of Manchester

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Maxton

Baroness Eccles of Moulton

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall

Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick

Baroness Scott of Needham Market

Baroness Howe of Idlicote

Baroness Thornton

Lord Inglewood

[ENDS]