Labour deputy leader and shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman has called for a review of press ownership rules which allow Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to account for 34 per cent national newspaper sales.
Labour is calling for a 30 per cent cap on control of the newspaper market with deals which take anyone over the 20 per cent threshold requiring “specific conditions” to be imposed by Ofcom.
The Opposition also wants to see a curb on cross-media ownership in a Communications Bill which it said she be included in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech.
Harman told the The Guardian: "The current system didn't protect from the monopoly Murdoch built up," she said. "There's no progress. Look at Murdoch by way of illustration."
She said: "We want the Government to be looking at a framework to be sure we don't have the problem of invincibility that comes with size. Look at what happened with News of the World and the big energy companies. The Government stands back and wrings its hands."
Harman’s announcement comes at a time when the future of press regulation is in the balance.
A statute-backed system of press regulation agreed between the Coalition partners and Labour was due to go to the Privy Council for Royal Assent on 15 May. But a decision has now been delayed by around six weeks to allow further consultation on a rival press regulation Royal Charter put forward by the majority of the newspaper industry.
Harriet’s comments on press ownership suggest the Labour Party line is not softening when it comes to regulation of the press.