News Media Association challenges party leaders Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn to answer five questions on how they would help the local news industry if elected Prime Minister

The NMA said: “Senior politicians from all the main parties have acknowledged the importance of local news brands, local newspapers and their websites, to our democratic society. Local news media are the most trusted source of local news and information and are relied upon by the public to hold power to account”.

The NMA continued: “But local journalism is facing significant challenges caused by changing news consumption habits and the tech platforms’ stranglehold on the digital advertising marketplace. The industry, which funds the local journalism read by more than 40.6 million people each month, needs support now to weather these challenges and build a sustainable model for the future”.

The five questions are:

  1. the Cairncross report contained a range of helpful ideas to support the industry, but 18 months after the review was launched, we have seen no significant progress. Can you offer a commitment to implement these recommendations, in particular establishing binding codes of conduct governing the tech platforms’ relations with news media companies, acting on the forthcoming CMA report into the digital advertising market, extending VAT zero rating to e-newspapers, and expanding the NMA/BBC Local News Partnership, within six months of being elected Prime Minister?
  2. one easy way for Government to help the industry is to put more advertising spend back into local media. Government is one of the biggest UK advertisers, but a huge proportion of its ad spend is being invested into the tech platforms, which have been linked with brand safety and fraud risks for the advertiser. Will you invest more of the Government’s considerable advertising budget into commercial news media?
  • the industry has long called for a media freedom audit on all proposed primary and secondary legislation to protect this fundamental right, which underpins our democratic way of life. Can you commit to undertaking this?
  1. the BBC regulatory regime explicitly requires it to show distinctiveness in its services to avoid causing harm to independent commercial media companies. Can you confirm that this regime will be more rigorously enforced if you were elected Prime Minister?
  2. will you support the UK’s system of voluntary press self-regulation and commit to the repeal of s 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 which, if enacted, would force publishers to submit to statutory press regulation or face paying crippling legal costs for both sides in libel and privacy cases, even if they win? Will you commit to seeing the UK move into the top five of the global press freedom rankings from its current position of number 33 – behind Namibia, South Africa, Latvia, Ghana, Lithuania and Lichtenstein?

To read the NMA’s news release in full, click here.