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23 July 2020

NMA: Pandemic Has Had ‘Profound Impact’ On News Media Sector

The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on the news media sector and prompt action is required to ensure that publishers can continue to serve audiences with the trusted news and information they require in ever increasing numbers, the News Media Association said today.   

In a report this morning on the impact of the coronavirus on DCMS sectors, the DCMS Select Committee said that although the report did not cover media or telecoms sectors in detail it intended “to continue to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on these sectors over the coming months.”

The NMA has warned that the coronavirus pandemic has led to severe declines in ad revenues, up to 80 per cent for some publishers, and the sector is facing mass redundancies and title closures unless further Government support for news media is forthcoming.

The NMA is calling on Government for swift measures to help the industry recover quickly from the pandemic such as a business rates holiday for news media, and swift action to level the playing field with the tech giants following the Competition and Markets Authority’s report on the digital advertising marketplace.

The report found that the “exploitation” of commercial relationships with news media publishers by Google and Facebook was likely to lead to consumer harm as publishers were less likely to be able to monetise their content, the CMA said.

"Weak competition in digital advertising increases the prices of goods and services across the economy and undermines the ability of newspapers and others to produce valuable content, to the detriment of broader society," the report said. 

Shortly after the report was published, peers heard that enforcement action against Google and Facebook must be taken as a matter of urgency in the wake of the report otherwise news media publishers face “a very bleak immediate future.”

The NMA has also urged the Government to “act swiftly” to implement the recommendations of the report of its online platforms and digital advertising market study in order to restore balance to a digital ecosystem.

“We hope that the Government will now act swiftly to implement these recommendations and restore balance to a digital ecosystem which for far too long has left news media publishers unable to realise the true value of their journalism,” the NMA said.