Google and BBC Should Face Media Ownership Review, Rules Watchdog

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Byline: Liz Thomas

GOOGLE, the BBC and Facebook should be included in reviews of media ownership, regulator Ofcom has ruled.

The watchdog said more Britons than ever were getting news from online sources and this must be included in assessments of the nation's media.

It found that Facebook and Google News are used by almost a fifth of people who access the internet for news, while 57 per cent view the BBC's online news coverage.

Ofcom said it would conduct formal reviews of the media every four to five years but stopped short of putting an absolute cap on ownership.

It said it would investigate if companies or individuals built up too great a share of news organisations, but claimed curtailing this would be a decision for Parliament.

The regulator said in a report yesterday: 'Online news, in a wide variety of forms, is used by a significant and rapidly growing proportion of the UK population. It is a dynamic and diverse sector. Online should be included in a plurality review.'

The regulator said it did not want to formally limit ownership, but if there were concerns that an individual or company had amassed too great a market share of newspapers, television and online, then Parliament could set further guidelines.

It said: 'Ofcom does not believe a prohibition on market share is currently advisable. Instead, in the interests of flexibility, plurality concerns brought about by highmarket share should be addressed through a periodic plurality review.'

Ofcom added that the BBC needed to be included in future reviews and highlighted that the corporation's news content was consumed by 81 per cent of Britons each week. …