General Election prompts calls for government to protect local media in five key ways

-Credit: (Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
-Credit: (Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)


Editors from across the UK, including CambridgeshireLive, have joined the News Media Association (NMA) in calling on the government to ensure the freedom and sustainability of local, regional and national media. The NMA has launched its manifesto today (May 29) that addresses five key areas affecting news organisations ahead of the General Election.

These issues include artificial intelligence and intellectual property, ensuring the BBC does not crowd out local publishers, press freedom, promoting media plurality, and recognising the importance of local media to devolution and local growth.

Read below to learn more about these threats to journalism and the measures that news organisations want to see passed.

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Artificial intelligence

The NMA is asking the government in regard to AI to ensure that publishers have control over the use of their content by large language models and are fairly compensated for its use.

Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian, said: “Without quality journalism to train and ground large language models, these technologies would struggle to make sense of the world around them.

“A strong copyright framework, transparency around how quality journalism is scraped and used, and a willingness to stand up for the right of investors in intellectual property to receive fair compensation for the use of their work should be at the heart of a balanced approach to AI policy of the next Government.”

Ensuring the BBC does not crowd out local news publishers

The NMA is also calling for measures to prevent the BBC from distorting the digital news market and crowding out commercial publishers, as well as action to stop the BBC entering the advertising marketplace.

Press freedom

The NMA's manifesto emphasises the importance of ensuring that new legislation does not impinge on press freedom, while also calling for legislative and non-legislative measures to combat strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs).

Promoting media plurality

They also urge that the next government must ensure that regulatory interventions support a plural UK media environment, driving competition, innovation, and investment.

Sarah Lester, editor of Manchester Evening News, said: “The next government has a responsibility to empower regulators that play a key role in bolstering a plural UK press ecosystem. This includes supporting the Digital Markets Unit to move quickly to guarantee a fair value exchange between Big Tech and trusted news publishers.

“The wider public is largely unaware of how much influence Big Tech has on what is served to them to read. It's not an exaggeration to say without action a fundamental part of our democracy is at stake.”

Importance of local media to devolution and local growth

Finally, the success of further devolution and local growth is dependent on supporting local news publishers whose titles sit right at the heart of local life.

Owen Meredith, NMA chief executive, said: “The proposals put forward in this manifesto are crucial for safeguarding the sustainable future of independent, trusted UK news media.

“We hope all political parties will commit in their manifestos to support a free and sustainable urge the next government to prioritise these issues and work collaboratively with stakeholders to support media plurality in the UK. A free and sustainable press is essential for upholding democracy and informing the public, and the necessary measures must be taken to ensure its longevity.”

The NMA's manifesto is available for download on its website. For more information, please contact Laura Skerrett at laura@newsmediauk.org.