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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Greens back restrictions on media ownership

The Green Party conference has supported a call for far tighter restrictions on the concentration of print and broadcast media ownership. It also supported a call for funding for small-scale, local independent media organisation. Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader, who moved the motion, which was given top priority by members in a national ballot that decided the order of motions at conference, said: "Concentration of media ownership is a considerable barrier to full democratic debate and participation in Britain. Plurality of voices is vital to democracy, and that very clearly is not what we have now, with 70% of the newspaper market controlled by three companies, and Rupert Murdoch’s News UK holding a third of the entire market share."

"This was the critical area that Leveson left untouched, and that we simply need to tackle. I understand that other political leaders are fearful of the power of the media and press barons, but I call on them to join me in a collective front on media ownership. The Green Party proposals, of a 15% or 20% maximum market share are in line with those put forward by the Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman in 2013, and as they rightly said then are critically important to tackling the ‘culture of impunity’ that Lord Leveson identified. “

Ms Bennett added: "I’m also delighted that we’ve made it Green Party policy to back a mechanism for funding small-scale, local independent media organisations. A small tax on internet advertising is one such proposal, which seems to me to make a lot of sense, being somewhat analogous to the licence fee. But whatever mechanism is chosen, as I travel the country, I see a range of wonderful local news websites and independent newspapers and newsletters, from the Dorset Eye to the Hackney Citizen to my own local Camden New Journal, which deserve support to ensure that our local news – council deliberations, court cases, events and much more, are covered."