Tories renew bid to scrap '20-20′ ownership law

Jowell rejected a call by the joint committee, chaired by Lord Puttnam, to delay plans to open up ITV to foreign ownership until they could be scrutinised by Ofcom.
But Jowell will face opposition from the Tory party for her decision to retain the ban, which blocks news-paper companies with 20 per cent of the market from buying a 20 per cent share of ITV.
She argued that because ITV "represents a highly influential media voice, it must remain independent of the editorial slant of the largest national newspaper companies".
Tory shadow media secretary John Whittingdale told Press Gazette the 20-20 ban was "unjustified" and said his party would challenge her decision when she introduces the Commun-ications Bill in a fortnight. The Tories will table an amendment that would leave newspapers subject to competition law only. "Imposing an arbitrary rule of 20 per cent is unjustified," Whittingdale said.
Newspaper Society president Tim Bowdler said the regional press were "disappointed" with Jowell’s response. He was concerned about Ofcom’s role, describing Liberal Democrat proposals to bring the Press Complaints Commission under its auspices as "the thin end of the wedge". "Ofcom has its origins in statutory regulation in broadcasting. We are concerned it has the potential to erode press freedom and the role of the PCC," he said.
lIt was also announced that the BBC will be subject to fines of up to £250,000 by Ofcom if it breaches programme standards.

David Rose

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