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01 April 2021

NMA: Online Harms Bill Must Contain Exemption For News Publisher Content

The new regime for online harms must contain a robust exemption for news publisher content so that public access to trusted journalism is not restricted in any way, the News Media Association has said today.  

Ahead of the state opening of Parliament and Queen’s Speech next month, the NMA has restated its call for a comprehensive exemption for news publisher content on publishers’ own websites, user comments, and publisher content disseminated on third party platforms such as social media.     

The exemptions must be "all-encompassing and enduring,” the NMA added, without any potential loophole that could be exploited to induce regulatory action, or legal claim, or state repression, or over cautious censorship by third party distributors.

The NMA will be monitoring the Queen’s Speech for any announcements which could impact upon the news media industry.  Headline areas include the online harms regime and the introduction of the new Digital Markets Unit.

The Government is expected to publish soon a consultation paper indicating the new future powers which will be given to the Competition and Markets Authority and the Digital Markets Unit to regulate the platforms. 

The NMA has welcomed the Government’s moves to implement the recommendations of the CMA market study into the digital advertising marketplace which drew upon NMA evidence and proposals.  

But the relevant legislation must be implemented quickly to avoid delay which could see smaller publishers go out of business as they face the twin pressures created by the imbalance in the digital advertising marketplace and the sharp declines in ad revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The NMA is also exploring with the CMA and other regulators ways in which practical progress can be made which benefits all categories of news publishers in advance of new legislation for the digital marketplace.

The NMA will also be monitoring the Queen’s Speech for any proposals relating to other key policy areas such as HFSS advertising, public notices, and reform of the courts, as well as securing media access to the event as part of the Royal Rota service for NMA members.