DCMS committee launches inquiry into effect of Covid-19 on media and other sectors

Posted on: April 8, 2020 by Claire Meadows

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the impact of Covid-19 on the media and other sectors under its remit.

Inviting evidence, the committee said that it was particularly interested in the immediate impact of the virus and its long-term effects. Alongside, the effect of social and financial measures in both the short and long-term, the committee said that it will seek to question ministers about the effectiveness of Government action to date and invites responses on what further support is needed.

Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Society of Editors has welcomed the committee’s recognition of the challenges facing the UK media amid the ongoing crisis.

He said: “These are truly challenging times as the media industry rises to the call to provide vital edited news and information amid the Covid-19 crisis yet at the same time faces the need to maintain those high standards during an economic emergency. The DCMS committee is right to look at whether sufficient support is being put in place to protect the industry now and in the future.”

The committee, chaired by Julian Knight MP, is expected to hold evidence sessions in late April and May and has asked respondents to also consider “what lessons can be learnt” from how DCMS and others have responded to the crisis.

Julian Knight MP said: “COVID-19 is casting a long shadow over our lives and will do so for years to come.

“We’re particularly concerned that we risk seeing an irreversible impact on things that we value as part of our culture. Whether it’s sport, music, theatre or your local newspaper to give a few examples.

“We’re already seeing a long queue for government support across many areas. We want to make sure that our cultural organisations that give us much that we’re missing in this lockdown get a fair hearing.”

The committee’s input comes as media advertising revenues have plummeted and a number of news publishers have been forced to furlough a significant number of staff.  Regional titles, in particular, have called on the government for more support including a share of government public information advertising and an extension of the business rates holiday for leisure and retail organisations to news publishers.

Evidence is requested initially by 1 May but, given current pressures caused by the crisis, this deadline is flexible.