Cairncross Report: UK Needs Regulator to Restore Trust in Online News

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LONDON – Tech giants should have a “news quality obligation” on content they host which is enforced by a regulator, according to a new report commissioned by the UK government. The report also suggested and investigation into online advertising. This would predominantly affect Facebook and Google, who take up much of the online advertising market.

Rebalancing Traditional News and Online

The review, conducted on behalf of the UK Government by Dame Frances Cairncross, was focussed on finding out what needs to be done to support the media industry in the current technological revolution. It concluded that online platforms such as Google and Facebook should have a “news quality obligation”. This would be overseen by a regulator in a bid to restore trust in the news.

The Cairncross report made a number of other suggestions, including:

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

Dame Frances 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.”

Jeremy Wright MP, the UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport 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.”

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