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Local Multimedia Rules Should Be Relaxed, Ofcom Says

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Well, this certainly looks like a prelude to those independently-funded news consortia (IFNCs) … Ofcom is recommending the government relax rules on local cross-media ownership so that the only restriction is against owning all three of…

1) A local radio station.
2) Over half of the local newspaper market share.
3) A Channel 3 licence.

If accepted by culture secretary Andy Burnham (who has already indicated help for struggling media orgs and who may be forced to out-do Tory shadow secretary Jeremy Hunt in the relaxation stakes), it would free newspapers, broadcasters and online providers to merge to provide regional news after finding cost savings.

But it would also afford them exciting opportunities for leveraging multimedia assets (TV, text and audio combined) and, perhaps eventually, to really converged newsrooms.

Indeed, the existing rules on cross-media ownership may even preclude the eventual delivery of IFNCs, if they make it past the pilot stage (see Monday’s post).

Ofcom is also recommending the removal of rules governing cross-ownership of local, national and DAB radio stations, but wants to retain a block on owning both a national newspaper and Channel (see announcement).

But don’t expect the focus to be too much on the internet – Ofcom’s research found the web is the main source of local news for just four percent of UK consumers.