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Ensure there is a sustainable business model for high-quality media online

Last updated: 03:03pm 22 November 2019

We will ensure there is a sustainable business model for high-quality media online, to create a level playing field for our media and creative industries.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.78

Our verdict

This is one of a number of policies in the manifesto aimed at keeping up with the rapid transition to a digital age. According to a 2018 survey, 74% of UK adults and 91% of 18-24 year olds used some online method to find news each week. Historic media models are in decline, with sales of both national and local printed papers falling by roughly 50% between 2007 and 2017. This policy promises to ‘ensure there is a sustainable business model for high-quality media online’.

In March 2018, Dame Frances Cairncross was tasked with undertaking a review into the sustainability of high quality journalism in the UK. The Cairncross Review was published in February 2019. Chapter 5 of the review looks in detail at “ways to ensure a sustainable future for public-interest news, and especially for local democracy news and investigative journalism”.

The Cairncross Review made many recommendations and, in acknowledging its publication, Jeremy Wright, then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, outlined government actions taken immediately:

  • “I have…written to the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) in support of this study [into digital advertising]
  • “My department will…conduct a review on how online advertising is regulated”
  • “I have written…to ask Ofcom to look…at the Review’s recommendations”
  • “I have written to the Charity Commission [about enabling journalism to benefit from charitable status]”

Mr Wright also confirmed the government would incorporate longer-term recommendations from the review in its work going forwards.

At the end of parliament, the Cairncross Review and the fact that government is acting on its recommendations is evidence of work to fulfil this pledge. So, this policy will remain ‘in progress’.

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