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President backs calls for ownership rules change

Outgoing president of the Newspaper Society Michael Pelosi has again made the case for relaxing rules over local media ownership.

Mr Pelosi, who is also MD of Northcliffe Media, wrote in the Society’s annual review that it was “clear” greater flexibility was needed over newspaper mergers, acquisitions and cross-media controls.

The view has been widely expressed in recent weeks and months by several industry heavyweights including Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey and the Local Media Alliance – a group made up of publishers Archant, DC Thomson, Guardian Media Group, Johnston Press, Newsquest, Northcliffe Media and Trinity Mirror, along with the Newspaper Society.

Mr Pelosi went on to say: “Local media markets are highly competitive with wide choice available to advertisers in print and online.

“The industry has always welcomed fair competition but will resist publicly funded competition, such as the BBC or local authority publications and websites, which competes head to head with independent local media for audiences and revenues.

“Rather than encouraging this activity, the Government must rein in local councils and expansionist state broadcasters from competing aggressively with local newspapers, distorting the local market and causing real damage to local businesses.”

Newspaper Society director David Newell added: “Business models will change; opportunities for partnership with the public sector, BBC and ITV will exist but within all that it should be for individual companies to determine their own destinies, and for the NS to maintain the freedom to publish – as of paramount importance in a democracy.”

David Fordham, chief executive of Iliffe News and Media, will take over the presidency on 1 July.

  • Click through to read the full Newspaper Society annual review.