The Scottish Newspaper Society has welcomed the publication of the long-awaited review of the sustainability of high-quality journalism by Dame Frances Cairncross.
SNS director John McLellan said: “Dame Frances has produced a very thoughtful and thorough study of the challenges facing the Press in a digital era dominated by a handful of as yet unaccountable tech giants, and focusses much-needed attention on the forces which news publishers are virtually powerless to control on their own.
“The need for the tech giants to be brought under a transparent regulatory framework like the rest of the communications world is long overdue, as is the full competitions inquiry into digital advertising she recommends. She has demonstrated that not only are news publishers adversely affected, but consumers and advertisers are not best-served by Byzantine complexities which seem to benefit only the tech organisations and mysterious suppliers in a lengthy value chain.
“And after the disappointment of Ofcom’s relaxed attitude towards BBC Scotland’s digital expansion to accompany the launch of the new channel later this month, we are also pleased she recommends that the impact of the BBC’s digital services on commercial news markets be subjected to scrutiny.
“We look forward to engaging with the other UK publishing trader groups, the Department of Culture Media & Sport and the Scottish Government to make sure the Cairncross Review does not just gather dust on a ministerial shelf.”
Dame Frances Cairncross said: “The proposals I have put forward have the potential to improve the outlook for high quality journalism. They are designed to encourage new models to emerge, with the help of innovation not just in technology but in business systems and journalistic techniques.”
The key recommendations were:
- New codes of conduct to rebalance the relationship between publishers and online platforms;
- The Competitions 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.
You can find the full report here.