Ahead of a new Communications Bill being proposed during the Queen’s speech this Wednesday, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman has called for a change in media ownership rules.
The Guardian reports that Harman has proposed a seven-point plan including a change to media-ownership rules directly targeting the might of Rupert Murdoch, where one person would be prohibited from owning titles that possessed over 30 per cent of the market.
"We have a situation where Murdoch owns national newspapers accounting for 34 per cent of total sales – it is too much," Harman is quoted as having said.
She has also argued that cross-media ownership regulations should be tightened with the ‘fit and proper person’ test extended beyond criminal convictions, while also proposing that the Culture Secretary be given more powers to intervene into mergers and allow Ofcom to also step in should they fear the creation of a monopoly.
Another proposal would see a cap on the percentage of revenue of the UK's total cross-media market owned by a single person or company, while a need for universal broadband rollout and a focus on digital piracy and on the growth of tech giants such as Google and Facebook were also highlighted.
Said Harman: "The government must not leave consumers at the mercy of big companies…We want the government to be looking at a framework to be sure we don't have the problem of invincibility that comes with size. Look at what happened with News of the World and the big energy companies. The government stands back and wrings its hands."
A letter was sent last month urging Prime Minister David Cameron to drop proposed plans to grant the security services new powers to intercept emails, web visits and social media posts within the Communications Bill on the basis of civil liberties, cost and innovation concerns.