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Media Mergers and the Meaning of Sufficient Plurality: A Tale of Two Acts

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Abstract:

This article examines UK legislation designed to protect plurality when media companies merge. The legislation requires a "sufficient plurality" of media companies to serve every different media audience. The meaning of this provision has proved to be as controversial as it is important. It was tested when pay television operator BSkyB acquired an interest in the public broadcaster ITV. After three years of litigation and conflicting decisions, the Court of Appeal upheld the view of the Competition Commission that Sky's acquisition was not a plurality concern. The article argues that this decision was based on too limited a view of the scope of plurality and the use of corporate influence that can endanger it. The sufficiency of plurality should be judged at the very least in relation to the effect of a media merger on maintaining the distinctness of audiences through the diversity of content that serves them. This Court did not have the opportunity to consider this argument. It is suggested that it would result in a more robust application of the plurality provisions in future media mergers.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5235/175776310794389373

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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  • The only platform for focused, rigorous analysis of global developments in media law, this new peer-reviewed journal is:

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    It turns the spotlight on all those aspects of law which impinge on and shape modern media practices - from regulation and ownership, to libel law and constitutional aspects of broadcasting such as free speech and privacy, obscenity laws, copyright, piracy, and other aspects of IT law. The result is the first journal to take a serious view of law through the lens.

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