February 18, 2019
The independent review, undertaken by Dame Frances Cairncross, was tasked by the Prime Minister in 2018 with investigating the sustainability of the production and distribution of high-quality journalism.
It comes as significant changes to technology and consumer behaviour are posing problems for high-quality journalism, both in the UK and globally.
Dame Frances was advised by a panel of experts from the local and national press, digital and physical publishers and advertising. Her recommendations include measures to tackle the uneven balance of power between news publishers and the online platforms that distribute their content, and to address the growing risks to the future provision of public-interest news.
It also concludes that intervention may be needed to improve people’s ability to assess the quality of online news, and to measure their engagement with public interest news. The key recommendations are:
- new codes of conduct to rebalance the relationship between publishers and online platforms;
- the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the online advertising market to ensure fair competition;
- online platforms’ efforts to improve their users’ news experience should be placed under regulatory supervision;
- Ofcom should explore the market impact of BBC News and whether it inappropriately steps into areas better served by commercial news providers;
- the BBC should do more to help local publishers and think further about how its news provision can act as a complement to commercial news;
- a new independent Institute should be created to ensure the future provision of public interest news;
- a new Innovation Fund should be launched, aiming to improve the supply of public interest news;
- new forms of tax reliefs to encourage payments for online news content and support local and investigative journalism;
- expanding financial support for local news by extending the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service; and
- developing a media literacy strategy alongside Ofcom, industry and stakeholders.
The Government says that it will now consider all of the recommendations in more detail. To inform this exercise, the Culture Secretary will write immediately to the CMA, Ofcom and the Chair of the Charity Commission to open discussions about how best to take forward the recommendations that fall within their remits. The Government will respond fully to the report later this year. To read the DCMS press release in full and for a link to the final report, click here.