I have welcomed the launch of a new review into press sustainability, with a particular focus on ensuring the future of local and regional press.
On 6 February the Prime Minister launched an external review of press sustainability in the UK, led by a panel of experts. The review will investigate the overall health of the news media, looking at the range of news available and how the press is adapting to the new digital market. It will consider the range of challenges the press industry faces and the role and impact of online platforms such as Facebook and Google, and the digital advertising supply chain (DCMS, 6 February 2018, link). It will explore ways of ensuring our free press operates on a level playing field in the face of rapidly developing technology.
A key focus of the review will be the local and regional press, who face an uncertain future. An estimated two thirds of Local Authority Districts in the UK are not served by a local daily newspaper (DCMS, 6 February 2018, link).
Panel members are yet to be decided and will be made up of individuals with experience in some of the core sectors under review, bringing a range of voices and expertise to the process. The review will not address politically motivated disinformation and propaganda (DCMS, 6 February 2018, link).
This follows a vote in the House of Lords for stringent conditions to be inflicted on the press which could lead to smaller, local papers being put out of business. The Government will set out to oppose this whilst working to ensure the sustainability of local press.
A free and vibrant press is a crucial part of any healthy democracy and local press are important and valued independent news sources for people in Fareham.
But just as the internet has created fantastic opportunities for new platforms and new voices to emerge, it has also raised some real questions about the future of the press.
Local papers are the lifeblood of our communities and help to shine a light on important local issues in our communities, courtrooms and local council chambers. Local media holds local power to account and uncovers injustices.
That’s why I welcome this government review to ensure our local can have a viable future in the digital age.