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Transcript From Monday Hunt Q&A

Transcript From Monday Hunt Q&A

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Published by: bladderonstick on Mar 14, 2012
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Jeremy Hunt:
But I also think there is an opportunity when we overhaul the regulation of the newspaper industryto recognise what I was talking about, when it comes to local newspapers, that we are in a multi-media age and I think our newspaper industry has an incredibly important contribution to make toour democracy; they make life very uncomfortable for politicians and government and rightly so,because that is their job in a democracy. But they need to reinvent their business model, theelephant in the room in Leveson is the fact that newspapers are losing money and their ability tofinance what most people take for granted as a really important part of the democratic process is
being undermined by the fact that they’re losing so much money so if, and I propose this,
if theindustry can come up with a regulatory structure that has the confidence of the public in terms of dealing with the excesses that the public are so shocked by then I will look at whether we can have asingle regulatory structure that will cover their entire output whether that TV, online, video ondemand or print. I think this could be a very important structural change which would equip themfor the future.37.48
Steve Hewlett:
Could that involve OFCOM then regulating the press?
Jeremy Hunt:
No, I
think what I’m saying is as things stand at the moment OFCOM will end up regulating all theirTV content and the public would want that because they don’t have confidence in the way the press
have been regulating themselves, but if they can come up with a good structure then we can look at
whether it’ll be possible for that to be the body that –
Steve Hewlett:
So you could end up with two regulatory bodies for TV content?
Jeremy Hunt:
Potentially yeah
, but remember you’ve also got youtube and the whol
e wild west of the internet aswell where there is no regulator. There are different regulatory environments.
Steve Hewlett:
Do you accept that in effect the internet can’t be regulated?
Jeremy Hunt:
I accept it would be wrong to try and regulate the internet, whether or not you can, you know the
Chinese government would probably say you can, but I don’t agree with that in a free society. I don’tthink that means we can’t do more to protect minors from undesirable content and help parents
control what is se
en by their children but I don’t believe there is nothing we can do about piracy
Steve Hewlett:
But it’s not amenable to what we’ve become used to traditional TV regulation?
Jeremy Hunt:
Steve Hewlett:
In terms of media ownership, because the other thing of course is that the newspapers are losingmoney, the new media space, the digital space that the more successful ones are finding their way
into, that’s going to bring about waves of corporate activity
consolidation and so on, so on and soon. And so traditional media ownership rules, and remember of course Murdoch, News International
and all of that, are widely saying that what’s needed is new ownership rules which make it harder for
organisations to combine. That does rather cut against the direction that the businesses would takeit. What is your view of that?39.49
Jeremy Hunt:
Having plurality of media ownership is incredibly important for our democracy, it’s really important
that no one person or no organisation is able to exert undue control over the filters that we here the
news every day and in a free society it’s very impor
tant that we have a proper plurality of voices.
Steve Hewlett:
Do you think Murdoch had too much?
Jeremy Hunt:
Well I think what we found was that the structures we had to maintain that plurality were not fit forpurpose, because we had a series of structures that I for example asked why it was that in the 2003Enterprise Act you removed from politicians the ability to arbitrate on big business mergers, becausewe were worried presumably that politicians might be knobbled by big businesses if they weredeciding about an issue like whether BAA should be split up for example, we decided that it wasbetter for that to be decided by an independent regulator. But curiously we left decisions about bigmedia mergers when it came to plurality with politicians and you know that was why I found myself in a position where there was probably not a single person in the whole country who trusted my

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