Media plurality and online news

16 November 2022

It has been almost two decades since the UK’s media plurality framework was last updated, and in that time, the way in which we consume news has changed dramatically. The sheer scale of options now available can be as overwhelming as they are informative, with trustworthy content fighting for space and attention alongside more sensationalist and unreliable material.

As intermediaries increasingly play the role of gatekeepers, curating or recommending news content to online audiences, it is not clear that people are aware of the choices being made on their behalf, or their impact.

To better understand the implications of these changes, last year we started a programme of work on the future of media plurality. Specifically, we set out to examine the possible impacts of the growth of online news, and the role of online intermediaries in particular, on media plurality, and what, if any, regulatory changes may be necessary to maintain and secure it.

This discussion document sets out our understanding of how online intermediaries currently operate within the UK news ecosystem. We explain the role they play in the news value chain; examine the potential risks they might pose and discuss some potential options for amending the regulatory framework to help secure positive outcomes for media plurality in the UK.

Over the coming months, building on the questions we pose through this document, we will be engaging with industry and interested parties. We then intend to develop formal recommendations for consideration by the UK Government.

Discussion document: Media plurality and online news (PDF, 6.4 MB)

Dogfen drafod: Plwraliaeth y cyfryngau a newyddion ar-lein (PDF, 4.3 MB)

Our review has been informed by a range of evidence. More information is available in the annexes.

This review has been informed by a range of evidence, including Ofcom surveys, video diaries, passive tracking, commissioned reports, and the views of industry and other interested parties.

Annexes

Document Date published
Annex 1: Media plurality regulatory framework (PDF, 169.7 KB) 16 November 2022
Annex 2: Measuring media plurality (PDF, 328.6 KB) 16 November 2022
Annex 3: Survey analysis: news consumption habits and media plurality outcomes (PDF, 1.2 MB) 16 November 2022
Annex 4: News consumption and media plurality on Twitter in the UK (economics discussion paper) (PDF, 1018.7 KB) 16 November 2022
Annex 5: Ipsos Iris passive monitoring data analysis (PDF, 1.1 MB) 16 November 2022
Annex 6: Exporing attitudes towards online news - the role of online intermediaries in news consumption (qualitative research report) (PDF, 3.4 MB) 16 November 2022
Annex 7: Media plurality quantitative report (PDF, 1.1 MB) 16 November 2022
Quantitative research technical report (PDF, 293.1 KB) 16 November 2022
Quantitative research questionnaire (PDF, 1.6 MB) 16 November 2022
Quantitative research respondent-level data (XLSX, 6.3 MB) 16 November 2022
Quantitative research data tables (XLSX, 5.5 MB) 16 November 2022
Annex 8: News ecosystem dependencies mapping (PDF, 1.6 MB) 16 November 2022
Annex 9: Media plurality and online intermediation of news consumption - an economic assessment of potential theories of harm and proposals for evidence gathering (PDF, 2.4 MB) 16 November 2022

Older documents

Report to the Secretary of State on the operation of the media ownership rules listed under Section 391 of the Communications Act 2003
Nov 2018