Reliable journalism is experiencing dire revenue shortages and is increasingly under threat, said Lord Black of Brentwood during a parliamentary debate in London.
In particular, Lord Black emphasised the need to regulate tech platforms and to create a level playing field. On the one hand, stating that the exemption for news media publishers in the Online Safety Bill is crucial to ensure that neither the state nor platforms can restrict or interfere with new publishers’ content; and secondly, confirming the need for added powers to the Digital Markets Unit, via a competition regulatory framework, in order to ensure that platforms pay for the content they use.
Lord Black said: “It is ironic that at a time when the future of local and national newspapers is in doubt, many are struggling to survive because online giants such as Google and Facebook are paying nothing for news content”. Tech platforms must likewise be held to fair trading standards and trust and transparency requirements in terms of their advertising, Lord Black stated.
Urged to end his intervention, the Lord nevertheless reiterated his initial point: “The UK’s media is in jeopardy. Time is not on our side.”
While the entire sector has been affected, the situation of the local regional press is especially concerning, with over 200 local newspapers have been shut down since 2005 and thousands of jobs lost in the past year alone.