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Reforming UK Media Policy

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Research carried out at the University of East London (UEL)  has been helping to reform UK media practice through influencing regulatory outcomes, policies and debates relating to product placement, cross-media promotion, and media ownership and pluralism.‌

The way in which the UK media is regulated, owned and managed has come under increased political and public scrutiny recently, particularly in light of events such as the News of the World phone hacking scandal, the attempted acquisition of BSkyB by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and changes to laws on product placement and promotion.

UEL research has been helping to inform the debate and influence the reform of UK media policy through the work of Dr Jonathan Hardy – a recognised leading authority on western media systems and a leading researcher and critic of product placement and related media-advertising integration.

Hardy’s research addresses the economic, social, political, regulatory and cultural aspects of Western media systems. His critical evaluation of UK media policy responses and regulatory arrangements since the late 1980s has exposed their failure to address problems of media power and market power generated by intensifying cross-media promotion.  

In his role as National Secretary of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF) – an independent media reform organisation which campaigns for a more diverse, democratic and accountable media – Hardy has drawn upon his research to make significant contributions as lead author for submissions on governmental and regulatory policy reviews, in public advocacy and journalism, and in advising and co-ordinating with other civil society organisations on media reform.

“Jonathan’s research has greatly influenced policy debate. He has confronted the failure of past media monopoly regulation, and come up with a solution.”

Hardy's research has been submitted as evidence to the European Commission’s Consultation on Audiovisual Media Services Directive; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport consultations on Product Placement and the Proposed News Corporation Takeover of BSkyB; Ofcom’s investigation of public interest considerations in the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation and Media Pluralism Review; and the Leveson Inquiry into the culture practice and ethics of the press.

More recently he gave oral evidence alongside Chris Goodall of Enders Analysis to the House of Lords Communications Committee on media plurality, a contribution described by the Media Reform Coalition as providing ‘the real meat of the session’.

Hardy’s proposals to establish ownership caps on media entities and impose public service obligations on large media organisations operating below that cap have also directly influenced the development of policies on media ownership adopted by trade unions, political parties, and media reform networks including the CPBF, the Media Reform Coalition (of which Hardy is a founding member), the TUC, the National Union of Journalists, and the Labour Party.

As noted by the Director of Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre, Professor James Curran, Hardy’s research on media ownership regulation “has greatly influenced policy debate. He has confronted the failure of past media monopoly regulation, and come up with a solution…This approach has been enormously influential on civil society organisations – shaping the policy of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, Media Reform Coalition, and TUC, among other organisations.”