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Sunak pledges to progress DMU legislation

Rishi Sunak has pledged to take forward in the autumn the vital legislation to give the Digital Markets Unit the teeth it needs to level the playing field between news publishers and the tech platforms.

Sunak pledges to progress DMU legislation
Rishi Sunak: “I hope that you were reassured by my track record as chancellor that I strongly back the newspaper industry.” Photograph: AbsolutVision on Unsplash.

Responding to a letter from News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith, Mr Sunak also said he would repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 before the next general election if selected.

“I hope that you were reassured by my track record as chancellor that I strongly back the newspaper industry,” Mr Sunak, a candidate to be prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party, said in a letter to the NMA today.

“Early on in the pandemic, we were deeply concerned about reports of the potential loss of some important local, regional and even national publications - but through intensive work together, particularly on advertising, this situation was thankfully averted.

“That said, I know the long term sustainability of this vital industry cannot be taken for granted, which is why as chancellor I pushed for the creation of the Digital Markets Unit and for it to be put on a statutory footing with real teeth. I also took the decision to zero-rate VAT on digital publications, something long overdue, which will support digital revenues and has reduced prices for consumers."

Mr Sunak added: “I support the growth of digital industries, but believe we will only achieve a thriving digital economy in the UK with properly functioning markets. I am therefore happy to confirm that I would take forward the promised Digital Markets legislation this autumn, including measures to ensure fair terms between publishers and platforms, if I am selected as Conservative Party leader and prime minister.

“Finally, I can confirm to you now that I will repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act as a matter of urgency. It’s vital that we remove this measure which seeks to coerce the press and stifle free speech ahead of the next General Election.”

The NMA says that they approached all candidates early in the Conservative leadership campaign to seek their views on key media industry issues.