Cairncross backs PPA call to axe the reading tax
Today, the highly anticipated Cairncross Review, examining the long-term sustainability of the press and high-quality journalism in a changing market, has been published.
Ellie Austin scored a job at Immediate Media as a Features Writer for Radio Times after graduating from the Magazine Journalism MA course at City University. Here she talks about working in the fast-paced world of a major weekly magazine and the power of a good coffee.
The PPA submission to the call for evidence suggested three main areas for consideration, all of which have been included in the reports recommendations.
Our main proposal, that the zero-rate of VAT afforded to print titles be extended to digital publications forms a key recommendation by Dame Frances.
The review observes the challenges to traditional sources of revenue for publishers, such as advertising and circulation. It also sets out the importance of high-quality journalism to a democratic society.
The report notes changing consumer habits and the “unbundled” experience of absorbing news online has implications for the visibility of public-interest news, as well as trust in news (the rise of so called “fake news”).
Dame Frances calls for public intervention to protect investigative journalism and democracy reporting, which she identifies as the areas of journalism most under threat.
Another conclusion is that policy-makers should seek to ensure that the unbalanced relationship between publishers and online platforms does not threaten the viability of publishers’ businesses. It concedes that the government has a role in helping publishes adapt to the online world, by encouraging the development and distribution of new technologies and business models, as well as the introduction of new codes of conduct, to redress the unbalanced relationship between publishers and online platforms.
The report also proposes a new fund which will be focused on innovations aimed at improving the supply of public-interest news, as well as a plan to improve media literacy.
“PPA welcomes the publication of this report and the detailed study undertaken by Dame Frances.
“We are delighted that the report recognised our submission and the concerns of magazine publishers, having adopted our key proposals.
“It is especially welcome that Dame Frances has backed our call to axe the reading tax on digital publications. The government should now move to adopt this as soon as practical, now the legal barriers have been removed thanks to our lobbying efforts in Brussels, on behalf of the industry.”
In all, the report makes a total of nine recommendations:
1: New codes of conduct to rebalance the relationship between online platforms and publishers: Those online platforms upon which publishers increasingly depend for traffic should be required to set out codes of conduct to govern their commercial arrangements with news publishers, with oversight from a regulator.