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Ofcom Launches Media Plurality Consultation

Ofcom this week published a consultation on a proposed measurement framework for media plurality.

As reported by the News Media Association: Following a request from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Ofcom published a call for inputs on media plurality in October last year and is now consulting on a set of indicators to inform a measurement framework for media plurality.

The News Media Association, which submitted input cautioning that sector-specific measures could encourage “blinkered assumptions" will be responding to the consultation which closes on 20 May.

Ofcom defines plurality as:

* Ensuring a diverse range of independent news media voices across TV, radio, print and online, high overall consumption across different demographic groups and consumers actively using a range of different news sources.

* Ensuring balance amongst organisations and news sources so no one voice has too much influence over public opinion or the political agenda.

Ofcom has not been asked to measure media plurality but is consulting on a set of indicators to inform a proposed measurement framework for media plurality.

Ultimately, policy on media plurality and what would constitute “sufficient” media plurality is a matter for government and Parliament, Ofcom said.

Ofcom has developed a proposed framework based on advice it gave to DCMS in 2012. Ofcom’s proposed media plurality measurement framework is structured according to the following categories of metrics:

* Availability: the number of providers and indicating the potential for a diversity of viewpoints.

* Consumption: the reach of different news sources, their share of consumption and the extent to which consumers source their news from a range of news sources.

* Impact: the potential for news sources to influence opinion.

* Contextual factors: additional qualitative factors which cannot be quantified in metrics, but are an important part of measuring media plurality.

Ofcom has also announced this week an "overarching review of the UK’s digital communications markets" to "ensure that communications providers and services continue to meet the needs of consumers and businesses."

Ofcom’s Strategic Review of Digital Communications will examine competition, investment, innovation and the availability of products in the broadband, mobile and landline markets.