Yesterday Lord Fowler asked in the House of Lords "what safeguards exist to prevent too great a concentration of media power in the United Kingdom". No, he was not worrying about the BBC but about the very nebulous threat of the dreaded News Corporation (a.k.a. Rupert Murdoch) taking over some other part of the media. Or more control of it. Or something. The idea that a country that has a tax-funded media that uses those funds to control as much of the scene as possible should be worried about some private competitor is, of course, laughable.
Amusingly enough, Baroness Rawlings was pulled up for making at least one of her replies too long. The House does not like Ministers filibustering and quite right, too. There was a certain amount of toing and froing about Ofcom, which is not going to be abolished, as, indeed, none of us ever believed it would be, though its role is questionable.
Towards the end of the debate, Lord Pearson asked:
Even so, my Lords, will the Government encourage the BBC to fulfil the single promise that it made in the wake of the Wilson report in 2005, which was to explain to the British people how the institutions of the European Union interact and their effect on British life?Baroness Rawlings's answer appeared to be to a different question:
The European Commission will have a role in this because it is wide-ranging. DG4 is examining whether the merger may result in a loss of effective competition in the market. It must decide by 8 December whether to clear the merger or to proceed to a full second stage of investigation.Exactly what is going on there?