Independent report shines new light on media plurality in the UK

posted on 01 December, 2023   (public)

CMPF report on UK media landscape 2022: traditional press under strain, digital media in quest of effective models

An independent report into the state of media plurality in the UK, produced for Ofcom by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) in Europe, has been published (28 November 2023). It highlights risks in some areas, and identifies concerns about market plurality as being the most significant. 

The study was done using the Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM), a tool for assessing risks to media pluralism in national media systems and legal and regulatory frameworks across Europe. The sophisticated analysis looks at 20 indicators across four areas: market plurality, political independence, fundamental protection and social inclusiveness. A risk score is calculated for each area across three categories: Low (0 – 33%), Medium (34-66%) and High (67-100%).

In headline terms, the new UK report (the first since 2020), reaches the following conclusions.


  • Market Plurality scores 64%, only 3 percentage points below the high-risk threshold. Indicators for transparency of media ownership, plurality of media providers, and media viability each come up as high-risk elements, with the authors citing a lack effective and transparent rules on ownership disclosure for both traditional and digital media in the UK; a high level of concentration in the production of media content across different sectors; and a lack of sufficient economic resources to finance journalism, with salary cuts and layoffs common in 2022.
  • Political Independence scores 41%. Within that, the indicator for editorial autonomy (63%) is just four percentage points below the high-risk threshold. Concerns detected in the indicator for public service media independence (48%) also contribute to the risk score here. The lowest scoring indicator is audio visual media, online platforms and elections (28%), reflecting no particular concerns when it comes to bias or rules on political advertising.
  • Fundamental Protection in the UK scores 37%, contributing factors here include a view that journalists (freelancers in particular) face an insecure working environment, with attacks and threats being common. The report notes how no legislative action has been taken with regards to an anti-SLAPP law, even though the National Union of Journalists and the Ministry of Justice have called for the introduction of such legislation.
  • Social Inclusiveness is found to be at low risk, with a score of 32%. Within this, protection against disinformation and hate speech scored the highest at 46%. This is, according to the authors, due to a low level of trust in the UK media, sub-optimal initiatives to monitor disinformation and the Online Safety Bill not yet having become law.

Having the UK assessed under the MPM framework gives Ofcom an additional detailed view of media plurality in the UK, complementing the more quantitative, news-focused measurement framework it conducts.

In addition, the MPM enables an understanding of the UK landscape alongside other European countries. To that end, the main UK report is accompanied by a comparison with four other large nations in Europe: France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

 Source: Ofcom and CMPF

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