By Tim Montgomerie
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Lots of nonsense is being said and written about how News International is undermining the diversity of British media. There's only one dominant force in the British media and that's the BBC. The BBC's dominance is overwhelming when it comes to news.
The graphs below come from last December's OfCom report into News International's bid for BSkyB. The PDF of the report is here.
TELEVISION ACCOUNTS FOR 73% OF NEWS
Let's start at the beginning. We know that News International are powerful in newspapers but people also get their news from the internet, radio and, of course, TV. Our first graph from OfCom shows that television accounts for 73% of peoples' news. The internet, TV and radio are nearly equal in importance but all a poor second place and with the internet eating into newspapers at an accelerating rate…
THE BBC ACCOUNTS FOR 70% OF TV NEWS COVERAGE
The table below shows that the BBC dominates the TV news sector. Its share of TV news is more than ten times as big as Sky News. And let's not forget that as part of the BSkyB sale Sky News was to be put in a separate entity, funded but not run by News International.
THE BBC IS EVEN MORE DOMINANT IN PROVIDING INTERNET NEWS
The chart below shows that BBC websites have ten times as much market share as Sky. When it comes to the overt opinion-based news websites News Corporation has less market share than The Guardian or the Daily Mail.
ANOTHER AREA WHERE THE BBC IS DOMINANT IS RADIO
The graphs don't capture this but the BBC's dominance is even greater when it comes to hi-impact current affairs programmes like the Today programme and Any Questions. Just like with BBCTV and Question Time and Newsnight the raw figures understate the BBC's power in the most culturally significant news programmes.
AND FINALLY, OF COURSE, THERE'S NEWSPAPERS
Here News International is a big player but as the first graph showed, newspapers are only a small part of overall newsflow.
Taken together these graphs show that there's only one dominant player in the UK news market and it is the BBC.
In recent days the Corporation has lost all perspective in covering Hackgate. I don't argue that the disgraceful goings on at the News of the World shouldn't lead news bulletins but do 100% of programmes like Any Questions and Pienaar's Politics have to be devoted to the issue? It's not as if there aren't other big stories out there. The wobbliness of the Italian economy. The growing likelihood of a Greek default. The USA withdrawing funding to Pakistan. Famine in the Horn of Africa. Revolutionary fervour in Syria. And at home we have soaring gas prices and a major public services white paper.
If the BBC was a wholly benign force none of its dominance would matter but on a range of issues from immigration to crime and climate change it's out of step with the people who have no choice but to pay the licence fee.