MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY NEWS INTERNATIONAL
News International plc is the main UK subsidiary
of The News International Corporation Limited. News International
subsidiaries publish The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun,
News of the World and the Times Supplements. These
newspapers account for just under 19 per cent of the total newspaper
market, ranking us second behind the UK's largest publisher, Trinity
A full list of all News Corporation's holdings,
including those in which News International has an interest, can
be found at www.newscorp.com.
News International is concerned primarily with
four areas covered by the White Paper.
1. Cross Media Ownership: News International
welcomes the review of Cross Media Ownership rules. The present
rules are discriminatory, penalise success and are increasingly
obsolete. Their presence narrows the range of potential investments
available for our consideration.
2. Foreign Ownership: Unlike most other
aspects of the White Paper, no consultation is planned on the
Foreign Ownership prohibitions. These prohibitions, which restrict
ownership of media interests on grounds of nationality, inhibit
investment by companies merely because they are deemed to be ultimately
controlled from outside the EEA. The White Paper argues that these
restrictions are required in order to protect European consumers
from too much foreign content. NI believes that consumers should
be allowed to make their own decisions about what they watch based
on their own preferences and tastes. NI feels that this area should
be included in the present consultation and that failure to change
these restrictions will leave any future legislation open to action
on incompatibility grounds under the ECHR.
3. Newspaper Mergers: The present special
provisions for newspaper mergers should be abandoned and all mergers
should be dealt with under normal competition rules.
4. Future of on-line regulation: On-line
distribution of content has two characteristics ignored by the
White Paper. First, it is an extension of traditional publishing
and as such should be subject to the same content regulation as
is traditional publishing. This self-regulatory scheme has worked
well for a decade. Reinforcement with statutory powers is a threat
to a free press. Second, on-line distribution is in its infancy
and requires large investment by the private sector. Such investment
will not be forthcoming if the BBC is permitted to use licence
fees and its taxpayer-funded brands to compete in areas where
private development is feasible. The mere threat of BBC entry
freezes out private investors.