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Tories would create "Berlusconi's Britain"

"Big bang" media revolution would be dangerous, warns NUJ head

The shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt this week promised a "big bang" media revolution on the same scale as the 1986 deregulation of the City, as the Tories fleshed out their media policy.

Now the party's proposed bonfire of local media regulations has come under assault from the president of the National Union of Journalists, James Doherty, who warned that the changes would lead to "Berlusconi's Britain".

Speaking at the NUJ's annual delegate meeting, Doherty said: "We will not allow our press to be undermined by the threats of political expediency.

"We will not sleepwalk towards a Tory version of Berlusconi's Britain, where the interests of the political elite are backed by the power of near-monopolised media ownership."

The Tory plans would involve the abolition of coss-media ownership rules, which prevent local groups owning more than one newspaper or radio station.

Doherty warned that the party's plans would allow regional giants such as Newsquest and Trinity Mirror to merge, leading to "homogenised output with little by the way of local accountability".

Besides the merits or otherwise of the plans, has no one told Hunt that, after the past year, comparisons with City deregulation really aren't the best way to sell a policy?