Professional Publishers Association (PPA) analyses the 2019 general election manifestos from the main parties

The PPA Public Affairs Team has trawled through the detail of the four main party manifestos and set out the most significant proposals for the publishing industry.

Conservative Party

  • press regulation: the manifesto promises to repeal s 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, which puts punitive damages on publishers who are not members of an approved regulator. This confirms a previously announced intention and a key PPA ask. The manifesto also confirms the party’s decision not to proceed with the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry;
  • support for journalism: the manifesto recognises that local and regional newspapers are “vital pillars of communities and local democracy” and have announced a commitment to extend their business rates relief. PPA says that it has lobbied for this relief to be extended to local and regional magazine publishers, and will continue to advocate for this extension. Furthermore, the document outlines plans to legislate to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online (taking forward the Online Harms White Paper), while “defending freedom of expression and in particular recognising and defending the invaluable role of a free press”;
  • digital platforms: the party intends to proceed with the implementation of a Digital Services Tax. It also intends to harness new technologies and crack down on online crimes;

Labour Party

  • press regulation: the manifesto states “a free and fair press is vital to protecting democracy” while pledging to “address misconduct and the unresolved failures of corporate governance” raised by the Leveson Inquiry;
  • fake news: Labour has pledged to consult media-sector workers and trade unions to establish an inquiry into “fake news” and introduce “a legal right of public interest defence for journalists”. Alongside this, the party promises to provide greater support for local newspapers and media outlets;
  • copyright: the manifesto proposed a review the copyright framework to ensure fair remuneration for artists and content creators. The PPA’s understanding is that this is simply an intention to adopt the EU Digital Single Market Copyright Regulation in UK law, rather than a wider review; and
  • digital platforms: Labour proposes to take action and address the monopolistic hold the tech giants have on advertising revenues, following on from the on-going CMA market study.

Liberal Democrat Party

  • press regulation: the party has pledged to proceed with part two of the Leveson Inquiry. The manifesto also prioritised the introduction of a “Leveson-compliant regulator to be given oversight of both privacy and quality, diversity and choice in both print and online media”.

Scottish National Party

  • digital publications: the manifesto pledges to press the UK to keep pace with the EU and scrap VAT on e-books and digital publications.

Green Party

  • press regulation: the party’s appetite to develop a new independent regulator to better safeguard healthy plurality of media ownership and implement the recommendations made within the 2012 Leveson Report;
  • copyright: pledges to modernise and reform copyright and intellectual property rights to ensure a better balance between the rights of consumers and the rights of those working in the creative economy; and
  • support for journalism: new grants to support local news publishers.

PPA Managing Director Owen Meredith said: “Whoever wins on December 12, the PPA will be campaigning to ensure the new government acts to support publishers. Be it ending the anomalous VAT regime for digital publications, investigating anti-competitive practice of tech giants, or protecting the rights of a free press in the UK; throughout the election and beyond PPA is here to champion consumer magazine and business media, taking your concerns to the heart of government”. To read the PPA’s summaries in full, click here.