The real issues behind Media Plurality
POWER AND INFLUENCE
In his opening gambit, David Elstein of Open Democracy and the Broadcasting Policy Group stated that media plurality is essentially concerned with influence and views, and the concern that one particular voice will have undue influence. The question is, how do we measure influence? Do we have psychological insight at our disposal to measure this? Can we ever measure this?
Elstein noted that the latest Ofcom report effectively made its 2010 report (on the public interest test of News Corp/Sky) obsolete – in his mind a positive development.
How governments and regulators define, measure and regulate media plurality is a crucial matter: for citizens, for consumers and for media businesses today and how they may flourish in future.
Elstein welcomed the acknowledgement from Ofcom (not present in the 2010 report) that the operational structure of the BBC does not support plurality – and that an individual who gains the majority of his or her news and current affairs knowledge from the BBC is unlikely to have enough range or variety of opinion. Elstein thought this new stance might be explained by Ofcom’s latest figures on share of TV news consumption: both in 2002 and 2011, the BBC and ITV between them were responsible for 88% of such consumption, but the balance between them has shifted from 2:1 to 5:1, with ITV at just 14% and the BBC at 74%. It has a similar share in radio news consumption, and even in online news consumption, it is easily the dominant player. Effectively, he said, one organisation is responsible for some 60% of news consumption.