Ofcom is considering a government proposal for further relaxation of regional media ownership rules, which could see the one remaining restriction removed.
According to a report by the Press Association, the regulator is considering a request by the Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt to look at the effect of removing the last restriction, which prohibits any one body from owning all of the following: local newspapers with more than a 50 per cent market share, a local radio station and the ITV licence for the area.
In its response, Ofcom said local media was facing “significant economic pressure” and removing the remaining restriction “could allow local media greater options to consolidate to respond to these pressures”.
But it added that a “serious consideration” remained that combined ownership could give too much control over the local news agenda to one person or company.
The regulator admitted “it is also worth noting that there is probably a reasonably low risk of the kind of consolidation that the remaining rule protects against actually occurring even if the rule was removed.”