The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I didn't hear their evidence this morning, but I have read the paper which Ofcom prepared and I would say that is a fair assessment.

It may be worth just saying what lies behind that, because this is all about, it seems to me, whether you can have a hard and fast simple metric for measuring plurality or whether you have a more discretionary judgmental approach, which I would favour and Ofcom, I think, is proposing.

It seems to me the way -- you can see the advantages of a bright line, straightforward ceiling or cap-based on one form of measurement. It provides a lot of certainty in the market. It gives everyone a sense of where they are. It avoids a lot of regulatory wheelspin in making assessments and so on.

The problem may be that it is entirely wrong in terms of its impact on the market and there may be other many more nuanced issues which a regulator should really take into account when thinking about real plurality in the marketplace.

How do you decide which route to take? I would use a couple of areas to guide that decision. The first, it seems to me, is: can you find a simple and effective single metric which you could use for a bright line cap or ceiling? Secondly: is the market that this would have to be applied in sufficiently robust to withstand getting it slightly wrong now and again?

I think in the world in which we live here, first of all, we can't find a simple, straightforward single metric, as Ofcom has explained, and secondly, as I was pointing out earlier on, I think the market is going through a very unpredictable transitional stage, so it seems to me that the dangers of having a single, straightforward bright line approach at the moment outweigh the risks of going down the other route. That might change over time, but at the moment that's how I see it.

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