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NMA publishes Election Manifesto

Local, regional, and national editors have called for measures to protect and promote the freedom and sustainability of UK news media as the News Media Association launches its manifesto ahead of the next general election.

NMA publishes Election Manifesto

Published today, the document highlights five key policy areas that the News Media Association says require immediate attention – artificial intelligence and intellectual property, press freedom, a new settlement between commercial news publishers and the BBC, promoting media plurality, and recognising the importance of local media to devolution and local growth.

On AI, the NMA urges the government 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.”

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.

Gary Shipton, editorial director at National World, said: “Funded by the enforced licence fee, the BBC's anti-competitive incursion risks hundreds of journalists' jobs as it steals audience and the advertising revenues associated with them.”

The 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).

Editor-in-chief of The Sun Victoria Newton said: “Preserving press freedom is essential for our democracy. A free press represents voters and enables different voices to be heard in our society, allowing the public to make fully informed decisions and share in the democratic process.

“But for this to continue, journalists must be able to report on matters without fear or favour, having the access necessary to inform the public. The next government must also ensure that existing and future legislation preserves and promotes press freedom, never taking our hard-fought freedoms for granted.”

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.”

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.

Barnsley Chronicle editor, Andrew Harrod, said: “Local papers play a critical role in informing readers about local government activities and decision-making, while also giving a platform to voice opinions. Without this crucial link, local authorities cannot respond suitably to their community’s needs.

“The government must explore ways to support local news, such as keeping the requirement for local authorities to print public notices in local newspapers and diverting a greater proportion of its ad spend into local media. By doing so, we can ensure that local journalism thrives and that our communities remain informed and engaged.”

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.”

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