Sustainability of the Press Review

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 17th November 2020.

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Photo of Lord Field of Birkenhead Lord Field of Birkenhead Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on the implementation of each recommendation of The Cairncross Review: A Sustainable Future For Journalism, published on 12 February 2019.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

In January 2020, the government published its formal response to the independent Cairncross Review, which outlines steps the government, regulators and industry will take to support the future of the news publishing industry.

In terms of the fiscal interventions proposed by the Review, the government has introduced the zero-rating of VAT on e-publications and has committed to extending the existing business rates relief for an additional 5 years, until 31 March 2025. We also worked with Nesta to develop a £2million pilot innovation fund, launched in October 2019, and have committed to considering further fiscal measures to support the sector.

The recommended market study into the workings of the online advertising market has now concluded. The CMA’s final report recommended a similar approach to the Cairncross Review in proposing codes of conduct to govern the relationship between platforms and publishers. We are considering the CMA’s findings carefully before determining next steps, and will publish our response shortly.

The Review also recommended that Ofcom explore the market impact of BBC News. Government welcomed Ofcom’s decision to conduct a review into the BBC’s news output, which was published in October 2019.

With regard to the Review’s recommendations on taking steps to help users identify the reliability and trustworthiness of news sources, online platforms’ efforts here may continue and expand as a result of the proposals in the Online Harms White Paper. We intend to publish the Full Government Response to the White Paper as soon as possible. We are also developing a Media Literacy Strategy, which will be published in Spring 2021.

The government is pleased to see the BBC has conducted a thorough review of the Local Democracy Reporting Service and the wider Local News Partnership, as recommended by the Cairncross Review. As set out in our response, we would support any efforts by the BBC to grow the scheme.

The government will not be taking forward the recommendation to establish an institute for Public Interest News. While we acknowledge the value the proposed institute is intended to provide, it is not for the government to lead on this issue.

The government recognises the vital role of newspapers in supporting communities and in ensuring the provision of reliable, high-quality information at this time. In addition to the above measures, it has therefore also been an absolute priority to ensure we do all we can as a government to support news publishers during the Covid-19 crisis.

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