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The Cairncross Review...

Online platforms should have a 'news quality obligation' to improve trust in news they host, overseen by a censor


Link Here 12th February 2019

The Cairncross Review into the future of the UK news industry has delivered its final report, with recommendations on how to safeguard the future sustainability of the UK press.

  • Online platforms should have a 'news quality obligation' to improve trust in news they host, overseen by a regulator

  • Government should explore direct funding for local news and new tax reliefs to support public interest journalism

  • A new Institute for Public Interest News should focus on the future of local and regional press and oversee a new innovation fund

The independent review , undertaken by Frances Cairncross, was tasked by the Prime Minister in 2018 with investigating the sustainability of the production and distribution of high-quality journalism. It comes as significant changes to technology and consumer behaviour are posing problems for high-quality journalism, both in the UK and globally.

Cairncross was advised by a panel from the local and national press, digital and physical publishers and advertising. Her recommendations include measures to tackle the uneven balance of power between news publishers and the online platforms that distribute their content, and to address the growing risks to the future provision of public-interest news.

It also concludes that intervention may be needed to improve people's ability to assess the quality of online news, and to measure their engagement with public interest news. The key recommendations are:

  • New codes of conduct to rebalance the relationship between publishers and online platforms;

  • The Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the online advertising market to ensure fair competition;

  • Online platforms' efforts to improve their users' news experience should be placed under regulatory supervision;

  • Ofcom should explore the market impact of BBC News, and whether its inappropriately steps into areas better served by commercial news providers;

  • The BBC should do more to help local publishers and think further about how its news provision can act as a complement to commercial news;

  • A new independent Institute should be created to ensure the future provision of public interest news;

  • A new Innovation Fund should be launched, aiming to improve the supply of public interest news;

  • New forms of tax reliefs to encourage payments for online news content and support local and investigative journalism;

  • Expanding financial support for local news by extending the BBC's Local Democracy Reporting Service;

  • Developing a media literacy strategy alongside Ofcom, industry and stakeholders.

The Government will now consider all of the recommendations in more detail. To inform this, the Culture Secretary will write immediately to the Competition and Markets Authority, Ofcom and the Chair of the Charity Commission to open discussions about how best to take forward the recommendations which fall within their remits. The Government will respond fully to the report later this year.

DCMS Secretary of State Jeremy Wright said:

A healthy democracy needs high quality journalism to thrive and this report sets out the challenges to putting our news media on a stronger and more sustainable footing, in the face of changing technology and rising disinformation. There are some things we can take action on immediately while others will need further careful consideration with stakeholders on the best way forward.

A Mediatique report Overview of recent market dynamics in the UK press, April 2018 commissioned by DCMS as the part of the Cairncross Review found:

  • Print advertising revenues have dropped by more than two-thirds in the ten years to 2017;

  • Print circulation of national papers fell from 11.5 million daily copies in 2008 to 5.8 million in 2018 and for local papers from 63.4 million weekly in 2007 to 31.4 million weekly in 2017;

  • Sales of both national and local printed papers fell by roughly half between 2007 and 2017, and are still declining;

  • The number of full-time frontline journalists in the UK has dropped from an estimated 23,000 in 2007, to just 17,000 today, and the numbers are still declining.

A report Online Advertising in the UK by Plum Consulting, commissioned by DCMS as the part of the Cairncross Review (and available as an annex to the Review) found:

  • UK internet advertising expenditure increased from 3.5 billion in 2008 to 11.5 billion in 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 14%.

  • Publishers rely on display advertising for their revenue online - which in the last decade has transformed into a complex, automated system known as programmatic advertising.

  • An estimated average of 0.62 of every 1 spent on programmatic advertising goes to the publisher - though this can range from 0.43 to 0.72. *Collectively, Facebook and Google were estimated to have accounted for over half (54%) of all UK online advertising revenues in 2017.

  • The major online platforms collect multiple first-party datasets from large numbers of logged-in users. They generally, they do not share data with third-parties, including publishers.

Dame Frances Cairncross is a former economic journalist, author and academic administrator. She is currently Chair of the Court of Heriot-Watt University and a Trustee at the Natural History Museum. Dame Frances was Rector of Exeter College, Oxford University; a senior editor on The Economist; and principal economic columnist for the Guardian. In 2014 she was made a Dame of the British Empire for services to education. She is the author of a number of books, including "The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution is Changing our Lives" and "Costing the Earth: The Challenge for Governments, the Opportunities for Business". Dame Frances is married to financial journalist Hamish McRae.

The BBC comments on some of the ideas not included in the report's recommendations

See article from bbc.co.uk

The report falls short of requiring Facebook, Google and other tech giants to pay for the news they distribute via their platforms. Caurncross told the BBC's media editor Amol Rajan that "draconian and risky" measures could result in firms such as Google withdrawing their news services altogether.:

There are a number of ways we have suggested technology companies could behave differently and could be made to behave differently. But they are mostly ways that don't immediately involve legislation."

Frances Cairncross earned widespread respect as a journalist for her hard-headed and pragmatic approach to economics. That pragmatism is the very reason the government commissioned her to look at the future of high-quality news - and also the reason many in local and regional media will be disappointed by her recommendations.

What is most notable about her review is what it doesn't do.

  • It doesn't suggest all social media should be regulated in the UK
  • It doesn't suggest social media companies pay for the privilege of using news content
  • It doesn't suggest social media companies be treated as publishers, with legal liability for all that appears on their platform

This is because the practicalities of doing these things are difficult, and experience shows that the likes of Google will simply pull out of markets that don't suit them.

Ultimately, as this report acknowledges, when it comes to news, convenience is king. The speed, versatility and zero cost of so much news now means that, even if it is of poor quality, a generation of consumers has fallen out of the habit of paying for news. But quality costs. If quality news has a future, consumers will have to pay. That's the main lesson of this report.

 

 

The contradictory rules of PC...

Press censor rules on the use of the term 'Asian' to characterise child abuse grooming gangs


Link Here 29th May 2018
Political correctness is supposed to be based on politeness and equality for all, but it doesn't really work out like that. It turns out to be little more than a glorified pecking order system where those who shout loudest, or can drum up the most aggressive lynch mob, grab the best PC rules and everyone else can go to hell.

But the rules get a little difficult to rationalise and pin down when they run into officialdom. And the UK press censor had the unenviable task of adjudicating on terms used to characterise child abuse grooming gangs in the press.

A complaint was lodged by Sikh, Hindu and Pakistani-Christian groups, concerned about the liberal use of the word 'Asian' in the Sunday Mirror s investigation into child-grooming gangs in Telford. The Sunday Mirror spoke of 'epidemic levels of child sexual exploitation' and 'that up to 1,000 girls, had been abused by Asian men'.

But the term Asian is far too broad and smears innocent communities, said the complainants. But IPSO rejected their complaint. The regulator ruled that it was not inaccurate to say the men were "mainly Asian". Nor did it give a significantly misleading impression.

An article from Spiked comments that:

The media's use of Asian to describe grooming gangs not only masks the ethno-religious identity of the perpetrators -- it also throws Sikhs, Hindus, Pakistani-Christians and every other Asian under the bus. Gangs of Indian, Japanese and Korean men are not rampaging across Britain's towns and cities, sexually abusing underage white girls. The men doing so are predominantly of Pakistani-Muslim heritage.

Of course the IPSO logic has to twist around the PC rule of the highest pecking order, that the word 'muslim' must never be attached to any wrong doing. Surely based on the totally reasonable logic that only a small proportion of muslims are involved. But why then does IPSO rule that it is OK to use the word 'Asian' when only a small proportion of Asians are involved?

IPSO were on firmer ground when adjudicating on a related complaint. A complaint against The Sunday Times was upheld. IPSO ruled that the paper had published an inaccurate headline when it claimed that Asians make up 80% of child groomers. The Muslim Council of Britain's Miqdaad Versi called for a correction to clarify that the 80% referred specifically to grooming gangs, not all child groomers.

 

 

Updated: Hacked off with Labour...

Labour resuscitates disgraceful proposal to introduce a UK newspaper censor and then denying natural justice to refuseniks


Link Here 19th May 2018
Full story: UK News Censor...UK proposes state controlled news censor
Local newspaper editors from across the country have united to urge MPs not to join a disgraceful Labour-backed plot to muzzle the Press.

Former party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Tom Watson are among opposition MPs seeking to hijack data protection legislation to introduce newspaper censorship..

MPs will vote tomorrow on proposed amendments to the Data Protection Bill that would force publishers refusing to join a state-recognised Press censor to pay the costs of claimants who bring court proceedings, even if their claims are defeated. They would also lead to yet another inquiry into the media known as Leveson 2.

Former party leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Tom Watson are among opposition MPs seeking a press censor.

Local newspaper editors warn today the completely unacceptable measures are an attack on Press freedom that would cause irreparable damage to the regional press.

Alan Edmunds, editorial director of Trinity Mirror Regionals, the country's largest publisher of regional and local papers, said:

We do not want our journalists facing the spectre of Leveson 2 when attempting to report on the activities of public figures, legitimately and in the public interest.  Another huge inquiry would only embolden those who would rather keep their activities hidden from scrutiny.

Maidenhead Advertiser editor Martin Trepte added:

The amendments represent an attack on Press freedom which is completely unacceptable in our society. As a point of principle, we stand united against these attacks on free speech and urge all MPs to do likewise by voting against all the amendments.

Update: Press freedom wins the day

10th May 2018. See  article from bbc.com

Ed Miliband served up an impassioned speech saying something along the lines of: 'think of the hacking victims', they deserve that the rest of British people should be denied the protection of a press so we can all suffer together.

But despite his best efforts, press freedom won the day and the Miliband's proposal to resuscitate the 2nd part of the Leveson report was defeated by a vote of 304 to 295. Tom Watson's amendment to withdraw natural justice from newspapers refusing to sign up to a press censor was withdrawn after it became obvious that parliament was in no mood to support press censorship.

For the government

Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock said it was a great day for a free press.

Update: Press freedom wins the day again

19th May 2018. See  article from dailymail.co.uk

On Tuesday, the Commons rejected yet another attempt to resurrect the 5.4million Leveson 2 inquiry into historic allegations against newspapers.

MPs were forced to act again on the issue after peers attempted to amend the Data Protection Bill, ignoring an earlier vote in the Commons last week. MPs have now voted twice to reject a backward-looking, disproportionate and costly Leveson 2 inquiry.  Tuesday's vote passed by 12 votes -- 301 votes to 289 -- an even larger majority than last week.

Downing Street later urged the Lords to finally respect the wishes of the elected house. And the Lords seems to have responded.

A Tory peer who had just tried to resurrect plans for another multi-million-pound Press inquiry told his fellow plotters it was time to give up. Lord Attlee urged the Lords to abandon any more challenges.The peer, who was one of three Tories to back a rebel amendment to the Data Protection Bill, said they should not seek to hold the legislation to ransom. He added:

We have had a good battle and now we have lost. We should not pursue it further. We should not hold a time-sensitive Bill to ransom in order to force the Government to change policy. In my opinion, that would be wrong.

 

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