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

I do completely sympathise and understand where the Inquiry finds itself on this issue, but there is an incommensurability at the centre of this, which is: yes, there are questions of where the technical expertise lies and whether it lies within the scope of this Inquiry and the time it has. I completely appreciate that. But I would also suggest that there is a question here about whether we can sustain the claim that policy making in this area has been demonstrated to be subject to endemic conflict of interest, if politicians have been compromised in relation to individual merger decisions and potentially also compromised in relation to development of policy frameworks in this area.

So it's a simple point, really, which is whether it is logically consistent to find that politicians are compromised, subject to these conflicts of interest, and at the same time not specify clearly to them some standards and objectives and simply to kick the ball back to them with a very wide discretion.

I think that if -- I think there's certainly been evidence to suggest that there is this problem with politicians developing policy in this area and anything the Inquiry can do to help them and to narrow the options would be welcome.

There is a potential other solution, which would be that an organisation, a commission, a civil society involving a commission specifically on media ownership rules to develop more policy in a transparent way over a reasonable period of time and to feed into the Communications Act process could be something that the Inquiry could recommend. You might take the view that that is risky and looks even more like long grass. I'd have to leave that to you. It could be something which is recommended.

I completely understand the point that plucking figures from the air is not something that the Inquiry feels able to do.

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