Monday, July 18, 2011

Morning Brief: Labour Party head condemns concentrated ownership of the media; Gannett income declines 23%

Labour Party head Ed Milliband today gave a speech where he questioned the wisdom of allowing one media company to own a high proportion of the media assets in the U.K., while also attacking the near monopoly position of several energy companies, as well.

Before the closure of the News of the World, News Corporation controlled nearly 40% of the newspaper market. It also owns 39% of BSkyB, giving it huge power, including effective control of two thirds of the pay TV market through the Sky platform, alongside Sky News.

Politicians should have confronted this earlier. And, let’s be honest, the reason we did not was, in part, because News Corporation was so powerful.

I do not think that is healthy. It is not healthy for a country that believes in responsibility all the way to the top of society. It is not healthy for our democracy, where we see too much power in one set of hands. It is not healthy for consumers.

That is why Labour will be submitting proposals to the judicial inquiry for new cross media ownership laws.

Gannett today reported that second quarter income fell 23 percent as a result of continuing ad revenue declines at its newspapers.

Despite this, Gannett's chariman and chief executive officer, Craig Dubow, attempted to be positive, even announcing an increase in the divident being paid out to investors.

"Our results for the quarter reflect the positive impact of our ongoing efforts to focus on our customers and to meet their business and marketing needs across our platforms. This resulted in higher digital revenues for the quarter in each of our business segments. Company-wide digital revenues were up 13 percent compared to last year. Broadcasting segment revenue was up slightly overcoming the significant political advertising spends of last year. Each of our business segments was solidly profitable, due in part to our commitment to align our expenses with revenue opportunities. We accomplished this despite the continued challenging economic environments in many markets and the impact of the crisis in Japan on the supply chain and inventories for autos and consumer electronics," said Dubow.