The ban on pre-9pm TV ads for HFSS (high in fat, salt or sugar) products being considered by the Government would not play a constructive or quantifiable role in reversing the UK’s rising childhood obesity rates. 

The ban on HFSS product ads since 2008 around children’s programming has not impeded the inexorable rise of childhood obesity. In 2010, Ofcom termed an HFSS watershed ban ‘disproportionate’ and ‘ineffective’. 

In 2018, a watershed ban would be even less effective. Children’s linear broadcast TV viewing is down by half since 2010, mainly to YouTube’s advantage, which benefits from light-touch HFSS regulation.
 

Video-sharing platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook video, enjoy a light-touch regulatory regime for harmful content and advertising. As video viewing of non-broadcaster content grows, the regulatory gap between TV broadcasters and video-sharing platforms widens, part of a broader uneven playing field for publishers and platforms.

However, there is momentum against this: the “platforms vs publishers” divide looks set to weaken in EU law, and the platforms themselves are investing more in combatting harmful content within a self-regulatory regime, though their internal policies and outcomes are still opaque.

Effective and fair regulation of video-sharing platforms would involve the balancing of national freedom of speech conventions and the public utility of user-generated video hosting with concerned stakeholder views: something approaching a co-regulatory system for online video-sharing platforms.

Although launched with an array of public service goals in mind, local TV’s flawed design has created a sector struggling to live up to its optimistic ambitions. 

Five years and £37 million of licence fee monies later, it is unclear what public service contributions are being made, or whether the scheme has provided value-for-money. A wholesale review of the sector is urgently needed.

The vision of a “thriving and sustainable” sector has fallen flat. Most licences remain loss-making, with doubts as to their long-term viability. Those operating low-cost models seem best placed to survive.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) halted the merger of the publishing assets of Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell, and is inquiring into the merger’s likely impact on competition in the national newspaper market

The CMA will take into account efficiencies of £20 million in newsrooms, printing and advertising sales, which if realised could help sustain national news provision in a failing print market transitioning to digital services

Secretary of State (SoS) Matt Hancock has issued a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) citing newspaper public interest (PI) grounds, on concerns the TM/N&S merger may be contrary to the public interest

Despite apparent instability of the political climate in Westminster, the direction of travel is predictable as both main parties share the aim of Brexit

The big fight in Parliament is over the future trade policy of the UK. Officially, the UK wants to agree a Free Trade Area (FTA) with the EU, while the Labour Party and Tory rebels hope a Customs Union (CU) prevails, binding the UK to the EU’s trade policy

The Supreme Court is about to hear the UK Government’s challenge to legislation passed by the devolved nations of Scotland and Wales, which claim their consent is required for policies on agriculture, fisheries and the environment

To celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March 2018 in the centenary of the partial suffrage, Women at Work 2018 promotes the goals of professional women in the UK through:

Greater awareness by large employers thanks to new gender pay reporting requirements. The national mean gender pay gap of 14% confirms a gender imbalance inside most large employers. Only 30% of management positions are held by women, about the same as a decade ago (although the total number of such roles are shrinking). Leadership from the top has is crucial to address stereotypes behind the 'motherhood penalty', 'glass ceiling' and 'glass walls'

Increasing the share of women in top jobs. The voluntary initiative to make business more effective by more FTSE 100 companies appointing women to their boards is aiming for 1 of 3 roles by 2020, up from 28% in 2017. Women, however, hold only 10% of FTSE 100 Executive Director roles, casting a spotlight on the scarcity of female leaders in waiting in the 'executive pipeline'

Boosting female engagement with entrepreneurship, a booming UK trend, and leveraging the power of digital. With just 1 in 5 small businesses being female-led, women often cite networks, role models, and mentors as important enablers

Nicola Mendelsohn, VP of EMEA, Facebook, comments: "We live in a society where the system is often tilted in the opposite direction to women – the digital world has created a level playing field that removes the barriers and eliminates the bias. Every week I meet with women who are starting their businesses through digital channels or inspiring others to do the same as them. This is an important report that charts the success to date and the important progress that is still needed."

The creative industries too will gain from engaging with initiatives to remove barriers to equality of opportunity and realise the talent of women at work. Internal transformation is particularly relevant in 2018 when society-wide soul-searching promises to transform cultural products by further shattering tired tropes.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that Fox’s acquisition of Sky is against the public interest on media plurality grounds, although it could proceed with an appropriate remedy

The CMA found the merger would give the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) and family members “too much influence over public opinion and the political agenda”

The CMA now enters the challenging remedies phase. Fox could offer an Editorial Board for Sky News pending finalisation of Disney-Fox (by 2019). Third parties seem likely to continue to seek to prohibit the merger

21CF’s bid for 100% ownership of Sky has been referred for a Phase 2 investigation to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will decide by 6 March 2018

Third parties Avaaz and Ed Miliband MP complain of the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) and family members over the UK’s news agenda and political process 

A remedy could insulate Sky News from this influence. The offer of a Sky News Editorial Board at Phase 1 was refused. Third parties will ensure the debate in Phase 2 is very lively

The Federal Communications Commission’s Privacy Order (FCC) was overturned by the Senate, clearing the way for ISPs to ramp up consumer data-driven advertising revenue.

While Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising in the US as in other markets, the US is alone in removing regulatory barriers to ISPs taking a piece of the pie.

US ISPs now have a self-regulatory regime for consumer rights on transparency, security and data breaches; but in the UK and EU, privacy advocates prefer enforceable rights.

Secretary of State (SoS) Karen Bradley has made an initial decision to refer 21CF’s bid for Sky to the Competition Markets Authority (CMA) for a detailed consideration of media plurality concerns, to be finalised in the near future

The issue at hand is the potential increase in the influence of the members of the Murdoch Family Trust (MFT) over the UK’s news agenda and political process. The SoS rejected the remedy for Sky News brokered by Ofcom

Ofcom’s non-negative decision on the fitness and propriety of 21CF to hold Sky’s broadcast licences cleared another hurdle in the event the merger is finally accepted