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December 2, 2015

Media monopolies rule!

Filed under: Blogroll, News, ethical space editors blog, Headlines, media policy, journalism — news_editor @ 6:38 pm

Five companies account for more than 80 per cent of local newspaper titles in the UK – more than four times the combined number of titles published by the remaining 56 publishers – and 85 per cent of revenue.

These startling figures appear in a new report, Noose tightens around the news, by the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. Trinity Mirror has just bought up the Local World group for £154 million, making it the biggest operator in the field by far. ‘It will dominate the market like none has before, with a combined weekly circulation of 9 million copies of 36 daily newspapers, eight franchises to produce Metro freesheets, 88 weekly paid-for newspapers, five Sunday newspapers and 43 weekly free newspapers. The next two largest regional press publishers, Newsquest and Johnston Press, each have weekly circulations of around 5 million.’

Local World was created only three years ago as a buyout of two existing groups: Northcliffe Newspapers and Iliffe News and Media, and was then valued at £100 million. Last year it recorded an operating profit of £39 million on a turnover of £221 million. The CPBF report comments: ‘This is the local paper industry that is supposed to be loss-making and moribund.’

In commercial television, the national company ITV has bought up Ulster Television in Northern Ireland. ‘The deal is the penultimate step in the destruction of the ITV network as originally set up as a counterbalance to the BBC. Of the 15 original regional franchises only one – STV in Scotland – now survives.’

The CPBF expresses concern that there has been no intervention by any regulatory body over these takeovers. ‘The case for regulatory action gets stronger and stronger.’

Monopolies rule throughout the media. Two companies have almost 40 per cent of all commercial local analogue radio licences and control two-thirds of all commercial digital stations. On the internet, UK search is dominated by Google while the most popular apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp are owned by Facebook, itself the most popular social media site.

‘This concentration of media ownership creates conditions in which wealthy individuals and organisations can amass huge political and economic power and distort the media landscape to suit their interests and personal views.’

• Free Press, journal of Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, 23 Orford Road, London E17 9NL; 07729 846 146; freepresspbf.org.uk

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