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Media Plurality - Ofcom consults on measurement framework

posted on 16 March, 2015   (public)

Media Plurality - Ofcom consults on measurement framework

On 11 March 2015, Ofcom published a consultation on a proposed measurement framework for media plurality, as the second part of a two-step process which will lead to set out proposals for indicators to be included in the measurement framework.

Ofcom had been requested by the Secretary of State to develop a measurement framework for media plurality. On 30 October 2014, Ofcom had invited stakeholders to provide their input on how best to measure media plurality.

Ofcom defines plurality as:

  • Ensuring a diverse range of independent news media voices across TV, radio, print and online, high overall consumption across different demographic groups and consumers actively using a range of different news sources.  
  • Ensuring balance amongst organisations and news sources so no one voice has too much influence over public opinion or the political agenda.

The following main topics are raised in the report:

Online news, aggregators and digital intermediaries:

Ofcom proposes that any online news source that originates content, or which has an influence over the selection of news content, should be measured by the framework in order to capture online news, aggregators and digital intermediaries. It is proposed to quantity the use of these sources using survey data.

Cross-media and sector-specific consumption metrics:

Bespoke cross-media consumer research is considered as the most appropriate way of measuring cross-media consumption. Sector-specific measures, including industry measurement systems, have value in being considered alongside cross-media metrics.

Measuring impact:

Ofcom believes that the stated importance of a news source is the most useful proxy for impact. Additional indicators to measure the impact and influence of news provision on public opinion are perceived impartiality, reliability and quality.

Contextual factors:

In addtion to quantitative metrics, the measurement framework should capture and consider contextual factors, such as governance models, applicable regulation and market trends.

Measuring media ownership:

Although Ofcom did not include a specific metric relating to media ownership, the metrics included in the framework should be considered at both the retail and the wholesale level.

Ofcom’s proposed media plurality measurement framework is structured according to the following categories of metrics:

  • Availability: the number of providers and indicating the potential for a diversity of viewpoints.
  • Consumption: the reach of different news sources, their share of consumption and the extent to which consumers source their news from a range of news sources.
  • Impact: the potential for news sources to influence opinion.
  • Contextual factors: additional qualitative factors which cannot be quantified in metrics, but are an important part of measuring media plurality.

The closing date for responses is 20 May 2015. In Ofcom's view, however, policy on media plurality and what would constitute “sufficient” media plurality is ultimately a matter for government and Parliament.

Timeline

Measurement framework for media plurality; A consultation on Ofcom’s proposed advice to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (EN)

Source: Ofcom