Today, I have welcomed the launch of a new review on the future of local and regional media and pledged my support to stop further press regulation.
The internet has eroded advertising income for local media leading to cuts in staff and the ability to hold local representatives and organisations to account.
To make matters worse, the Data Protection Bill presently going through Parliament now has amendments from the Lords that would leave newspapers with enormous legal bills whether they won data breach cases or not.
Local newspapers, like the Eastbourne Herald, do an important job of holding public figures, councils and other organisations to account by being the eyes and ears of their communities, so I support this review and the least possible regulation.
I am pleased the review will examine the role and influence digital companies like Google and Facebook are having on the ability of the press to operate.This is an area of concern because these operators are taking traditional media content, using it on their platforms but not paying those who generated it.
I have also pledged my support, along with the Prime Minister, to stop any further tightening of press regulation in the form of Section 40 of the Data Protection Bill.
This requirement for newspapers not signed up to an approved regulator to pay their own and their opponents’ legal costs in relation to data protection breaches is wholly disproportionate and unhelpful to the operation of a free press in a democratic society.
The government has rightly said it will overturn the Lords’ amendments to this bill which would effectively stop investigative journalism in the country.