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COMMONS AMENDMENT

241

Schedule 2, page 108, line 5, at end insert--

'Further restrictions on holding of local radio licences by a person who runs a local newspaper

5B.--(1) No person who runs a local newspaper which for the time being has, or local newspapers which for the time being together have, a local market share of 20 per cent. or more in each of the relevant areas may hold any three licences to provide local radio services any of which shares a potential audience with each of the other services.
(2) No person who runs a local newspaper which for the time being has, or local newspapers which for the time being together have, a local market share of 20 per cent. or more in both the relevant areas may hold any two licences to provide local radio services which share a potential audience, unless one of the licences is an AM licence and the other is an FM licence.
(3) In sub-paragraphs (1) and (2)--
(a) "the relevant areas" means the coverage areas of the local radio services in question,
(b) references to sharing a potential audience shall be construed in accordance with sub-paragraph (5) of paragraph 10A in Part III of this Schedule, and
(c) "AM licence" and "FM licence" have the same meaning as in that paragraph.
(4) For the purposes of this paragraph a person shall be treated as holding a licence if the licence is held by a person connected with him.
(5) This paragraph has effect subject to paragraph 5C.
Power by order to impose different restrictions in place of paragraph 5B

5C.--(1) The Secretary of State may by order provide that, where a digital sound programme service is provided in any area, the holding, by a person who runs a local newspaper or local newspapers as mentioned in paragraph 5B(1), of two or more licences to provide in that area local radio services which for the purposes of paragraph 5B share a potential audience with each other or with each of the others shall, instead of being subject to the restrictions specified in paragraph 5B, be subject to other restrictions specified in the order.
(2) For the purposes of any order under sub-paragraph (1), a person shall be treated as holding a licence if the licence is held by a person connected with him.'.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I beg to move that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 241. I should also like to speak to Amendments Nos. 242 through to 253 and to Amendments Nos. 255 and 256.

These amendments relate to the public interest test for the newspaper acquisition of broadcasting licences. Amendment No. 241 allows, subject to the public interest test, local newspapers with less than 20 per cent. of circulation in an area to own up to three local radio services on the same basis as any other company, and local newspapers with between 20 per cent. and 50 per cent. of circulation in an area to own one AM and one FM service.

Amendment No. 242 clarifies the operation of the public interest test for cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcasters, ensuring that it will not represent a continuing sanction against a newspaper once it has acquired a particular broadcasting licence; that it will not apply retrospectively and that it will not apply if a newspaper acquires further titles; and that it will not

18 Jul 1996 : Column 1052

apply to the acquisition of licences by local newspapers outside their circulation area. But that will apply each time a newspaper proprietor acquires further broadcasting licences, and it will apply if a national newspaper acquires a local broadcasting licence and subsequently becomes a local newspaper proprietor in the area concerned.

Amendment No. 242 also permits the ITC and Radio Authority, having consulted licence-holders, to extend the three-month period within which they are required to make a public interest determination.

Amendment No. 242 also ensures that a newspaper proprietor wishing to become a digital programme provider is able to obtain an advance indication that, in principle, his being a digital programme provider is unlikely to be against the public interest test.

Amendments Nos. 252 to 256 make a series of consequential amendments, following Amendment No. 242, while Amendments Nos. 255 and 256 prevent the regulators revoking a licence solely on the basis of a change of circumstances, which if those circumstances had obtained prior to its grant, would have led them to conclude that the grant was against the public interest.

Taken together, these amendments ensure that the regulators can protect plurality and diversity without imposing unduly on the media industry.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 241.--(Lord Inglewood.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

242

Schedule 2, page 108, leave out lines 8 to 22 and insert--


'9.--(1) A licence to provide any of the services specified in sub-paragraph (4) may not be granted to a body corporate which is, or is connected with, the proprietor of a national or local newspaper if the relevant authority determine that in all the circumstances the holding of the licence by that body corporate could be expected to operate against the public interest.
(2) Subject to sub-paragraph (3), a body corporate which holds a licence to provide any of the services specified in sub-paragraph (4) shall not become, or become connected with, the proprietor of a national or local newspaper and continue to hold the licence if the relevant authority determine within the permitted period that in all the circumstances the continued holding of the licence by that body corporate operates, or could be expected to operate, against the public interest.
(3) Sub-paragraph (2) does not apply in any case where the body corporate holding the licence--
(a) is already the proprietor of some other national or local newspaper, or is already connected with such a proprietor, and
(b) does not become connected with any other person who holds a licence to provide any of the services specified in sub-paragraph (4).
(4) The services referred to in sub-paragraphs (1) to (3) are--
(a) a national Channel 3 service or Channel 5,
(b) a national radio service, and
(c) national digital sound programme services.
(5) Subject to sub-paragraph (6), in this paragraph "the permitted period" means a period beginning with the day on which the licence holder becomes, or becomes connected with, the proprietor of the national or local newspaper ("the relevant day") and ending--

18 Jul 1996 : Column 1053


(a) in a case where the licence holder has, before the relevant day, notified the relevant authority that he will become, or become connected with the proprietor of that national or local newspaper on that day, at the end of the period of three months beginning with the relevant day, or
(b) in any other case, at the end of the period of three months beginning with the day on which the licence holder notifies the relevant authority that he has become, or has become connected with, the proprietor of that national or local newspaper.
(6) The relevant authority may in a particular case, after consultation with the licence holder, notify him before the time when the permitted period would (apart from this sub-paragraph) have ended that the permitted period in that case is to be calculated as if the references in sub-paragraph (5) to three months were references to such longer period specified in the notification as the relevant authority reasonably consider necessary in the circumstances.
(7) Nothing in any of the preceding provisions of this Schedule shall be construed as affecting the operation of this paragraph or paragraph 9A or 9B.
9A.--(1) A licence to provide a regional Channel 3 service or a local radio service may not be granted to a body corporate which is, or is connected with, the proprietor of a national newspaper or a relevant local newspaper if the relevant authority determine that in all the circumstances the holding of the licence by that body corporate could be expected to operate against the public interest.
(2) Subject to sub-paragraph (3), a body corporate which holds a licence to provide a regional Channel 3 service or a local radio service shall not become, or become connected with, the proprietor of a national newspaper and continue to hold the licence if the relevant authority determine within the permitted period that in all the circumstances the continued holding of the licence by that body corporate operates, or could be expected to operate, against the public interest.
(3) Sub-paragraph (2) does not apply in any case where the body corporate holding the licence--
(a) is already the proprietor of some other national newspaper or is already connected with such a proprietor, and
(b) does not become connected with--
(i) any other person who holds a licence to provide a regional Channel 3 service or a local radio service, or
(ii) any person who holds a licence to provide digital programme services and is providing a service under that licence.
(4) Subject to sub-paragraph (5), a body corporate which holds a licence to provide a regional Channel 3 service or a local radio service shall not become, or become connected with, the proprietor of a relevant local newspaper and continue to hold the licence if the relevant authority determine, within the permitted period that in all the circumstances the continued holding of the licence by that body corporate operates, or could be expected to operate, against the public interest.
(5) Sub-paragraph (4) does not apply in any case where the body corporate which holds the licence--
(a) is already the proprietor of some other local newspaper which is a relevant local newspaper in relation to the service referred to in that sub-paragraph, or is already connected with such a proprietor, and
(b) does not become connected with--
(i) any other person who holds a licence to provide a regional Channel 3 service or local radio service in relation to which that other local newspaper is also a relevant local newspaper, or

18 Jul 1996 : Column 1054


(ii) any person who holds a licence to provide digital programme services and is providing a service under that licence in relation to which that other local newspaper is also a relevant local newspaper.
(6) For the purposes of this paragraph a local newspaper is a "relevant local newspaper", in relation to any service, if it serves an area which is to a significant extent the same as the coverage area of the service.
(7) In this paragraph "the permitted period" has the meaning given by paragraph 9(5) and (6).
9B.--(1) A body corporate which holds a licence to provide digital programme services and is, or is connected with, the proprietor of a national newspaper or a relevant local newspaper, shall not begin to provide a digital programme service if the Commission determine before the end of the period specified in sub-paragraph (2) that in all the circumstances the provision of that service by that body corporate could be expected to operate against the public interest.
(2) The period referred to in sub-paragraph (1) is the period of three months beginning with the day on which the Commission are notified pursuant to section 18(3) of the 1996 Act of an agreement to provide the digital programme service, or such longer period beginning with that day as the Commission may in a particular case, after consultation with the licence holder, notify him during those three months as being the period which they reasonably consider necessary in the circumstances.
(3) Subject to sub-paragraph (4), a body corporate which is providing a digital programme service shall not become, or become connected with, the proprietor of a national newspaper and continue to provide the service if the Commission determine within the permitted period that in all the circumstances the continued provision of the service by that body corporate operates, or could be expected to operate, against the public interest.
(4) Sub-paragraph (3) does not apply in any case where the body corporate which is providing the digital programme service--
(a) is already the proprietor of some other national newspaper or is already connected with such a proprietor, and
(b) does not become connected with--
(i) the holder of a licence to provide a regional Channel 3 service or a local radio service, or
(ii) the holder of another licence to provide digital programme services who is providing a service under that licence.
(5) Subject to sub-paragraph (6), a body corporate which is providing a digital programme service shall not become, or become connected with, the proprietor of a relevant local newspaper and continue to provide the service if the Commission determine within the permitted period that in all the circumstances the continued provision of the service by that body corporate operates, or could be expected to operate, against the public interest.
(6) Sub-paragraph (5) does not apply in any case where the body corporate which is providing the digital programme service--
(a) is already the proprietor of some other local newspaper which is a relevant local newspaper in relation to the service referred to in that sub-paragraph, or is already connected with such a proprietor, and
(b) does not become connected with--
(i) the holder of a licence to provide a regional Channel 3 service or local radio service in relation to which that other local newspaper is also a relevant local newspaper, or

18 Jul 1996 : Column 1055


(ii) the holder of another licence to provide digital programme services who is providing a service under that licence in relation to which that other local newspaper is also a relevant local newspaper.
(7) In this paragraph--
(a) references to a relevant local newspaper shall be construed in accordance with paragraph 9A(6), and
(b) "the permitted period" has the meaning given by paragraph 9(5) and (6).'.
243

Page 108, line 24, leave out from 'result' to end of line 27 and insert--


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