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Leveson inquiry: Sun circulation not 'an accurate measure of its impact'

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Leveson inquiry: Sun circulation not 'an accurate measure of its impact'

Post by sharonl on 17.07.12 20:11

Leveson inquiry: Sun circulation not 'an accurate measure of its impact'

Ofcom director says Sun readers do not attach a high level of importance to its content compared to other media outlets

Lisa O'Carroll, Tuesday 17 July 2012 15.35 BST

The Sun: not as influential as Al Jazeera? Photograph: John Stillwell/PA

Readers of the Sun do not attach a high level of "personal importance" to the content they read, research by the TV and radio watchdog Ofcom has shown.

The Leveson inquiry heard on Tuesday that judging a newspaper by its circulation was not an accurate measure of its impact on society and was too simplistic a tool to use in assessing plurality of the media market.

The group director in charge of strategy at Ofcom, Steve Unger, said the regulator's research showed small media outlets, such as the Arab news station Al Jazeera, may be highly valued personally by their audiences whereas big circulation or high audience radio or TV stations may not.

"There are some titles with relatively low shares but where individual consumers attach a high importance to that media – Al Jazeera is an example of a TV broadcaster that has a very low share but where those people who view it attach a high personal importance," he said.

"At the other extreme, I think the consumer evidence we reproduce suggests that the Sun, which has a very high share, the readers of that newspaper attach a relatively low personal importance to the newspaper," he added. "There may be reasons. They are reading it for the entertainment value rather than the news, for example".

The Leveson inquiry also discussed the Data Protection Act with leading barrister Philip Coppel starting the evidence session.

He said people who had their medical records exposed in a newspaper should get higher compensation than those involved in personal injuries because there was an element of "deliberate" offence caused.

Coppel did not name any names, but his testimony came weeks after the former prime minister Gordon Brown attacked the Sun for revealing his son had cystic fibrosis.

"Let's say a person's medical reports were disseminated in a national newspaper, I find it difficult to see why this would be modestly compensated," he said.

Coppel added that the fact the person whose medical records were exposed "didn't break out in boils or show another physical manifestation" of the offence caused was "neither here nor there."

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