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Review to seek sustainable future for the UK’s free press

The Prime Minister warned that the closure of hundreds of newspapers was “dangerous for our democracy”.

Theresa May has announced a review of the sustainability of Britain’s newspaper industry in the face of falling circulations and online competition for advertising revenue.

In a speech in Manchester, the Prime Minister described the free press as “one of the foundations on which our democracy is built”, declaring: “It must be preserved.”

The closure of hundreds of titles across the UK in recent years was “dangerous for our democracy” because of the risk that voters will turn to “untrustworthy” sources for the information on which to form their views.

A free press is one of the foundations on which our democracy is built, and it must be preserved Prime Minister Theresa May

The review will examine the operation of digital advertising and look at whether those writing online content are getting a big enough slice of the income from ads.

And it will consider action which the Government or the media industry could take to ensure a financial future for the free press.

Mrs May said: “Good quality journalism provides us with the information and analysis we need to inform our viewpoints and conduct a genuine discussion. It is a huge force for good.

“But in recent years, especially in local journalism, we’ve seen falling circulations, a hollowing-out of local newsrooms and fears for the future sustainability of high-quality journalism.

“Over 200 local papers have closed since 2005. Here in Greater Manchester, several local newspapers have closed, including the Salford Advertiser, the Trafford Advertiser and the Wilmslow Express.

“This is dangerous for our democracy. When trusted and credible news sources decline, we can become vulnerable to news which is untrustworthy.”

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Theresa May

The new review will look at the sustainability of the UK’s national, regional and local press, said Mrs May.

“It will look at the different business models for high-quality journalism,” she said.

“And because digital advertising is now one of the essential sources of revenue for newspapers, the review will analyse how that supply chain operates.

“It will consider whether the creators of content are getting their fair share of advertisement revenue.

“And it will recommend whether industry or Government-led solutions can help improve the sustainability of the sector for the future.

“A free press is one of the foundations on which our democracy is built, and it must be preserved.”

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