PPA submits evidence to Cairncross review on press sustainability

The PPA has submitted evidence to a Government commissioned review on the long-term sustainability of quality journalism, chaired by Dame Frances Cairncross (pictured).

The Cairncross review, supported by an expert panel, is looking at how to sustain the production and distribution of high-quality journalism in a changing market. The review is focused on investigating:

  • The overall state of the news media market
  • Threats to financial sustainability
  • The role and impact of digital search engines and social media platforms
  • How content and data flows are operated and managed
  • The role of digital advertising

In a detailed submission, the PPA has urged the review to back three core recommendations in order to provide a level playing field that will underpin a sustainable press in the UK:

i) The reform of VAT rules in order to introduce platform-neutral application of the zero-rate afforded to magazines, newspapers and books in printed formats.

ii) The resetting of the regulations and practices governing the Competition and Markets Authority in order to allow consolidated media ownership, thus enabling publishers to achieve cost efficiencies and invest in journalism, supporting media plurality, and safeguarding brands that would otherwise be lost.

iii) The review of competition in the digital advertising market, with a specific focus on monopolistic digital platforms, including Facebook and Google, and their impact on the value chain in relation to publishers and content creators.

Commenting on the submission, PPA Managing Director Owen Meredith said: “This review is a timely opportunity to explore how action by government and industry can help ensure the long-term sustainability of the press. Across platforms, magazine media and business information publishers are reaching record audiences, yet monetising those audiences to sustain investment in quality journalism is harder than ever. The escalation of fake news, erosion of reporting rights and financial impact of monopolistic competition from global digital giants all present challenges.”

Magazine media is a vibrant part of the press industry, both in general news and special interest, and is held in high regard by readers with Ofcom’s latest "News Consumption in the UK: 2018" report finding magazines are rated more favourably than any other news platform for quality, accuracy, trustworthiness and impartiality.

“Publishers are successfully developing business models for the digital age, but are hampered by VAT rules that penalise digital innovation; a competition regime that has not adapted to changing consumer habits; and a digital advertising market that lacks transparency – with just two players hoovering up 84% of all digital advertising revenues,” Meredith added.

“We will continue to add input to the review over the coming months and look forward to the review’s output and recommendations in the New Year.”

For further information, contact PPA Public Affairs Executive Amy Owens.



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