Media Plurality: Under the Skin of Control – Concept, Context, and Reform

Antonio Bavasso, Dec 20, 2012

The concept of media plurality has achieved a remarkable degree of prominence recently, particularly in the United Kingdom and more generally in Europe. This article looks at the U.K. experience and, on that basis, it aims to illustrate how the legal concept and policy aims have been affected by transformational effects of new media forms. The first section considers the current regulatory regime applicable to traditional media and the concept of media plurality the regime aims to protect, and illustrates the wide range of interventions already in place. The second section argues for the importance of judging the plurality of media, and thus the need for any further intervention, on the basis of a cross-media assessment, rather than taking individual types of media in isolation. The third section considers how technological developments are shaping the outlook for media plurality today. Based on this analysis, I question whether the regulatory regime relating to plurality requires either a major overhaul and/or the emphasis that it currently attracts in the regulatory reform agenda. On the other hand, it seems clear that we need to remain vigilant about new and more subtle forms of influence on public discourse that flow from the evolving methods of news distribution and consumption.

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