Freedom of the press under threat ‘across the world’, says Culture Secretary

Posted on: May 18, 2023 by Claire Meadows

Freedom of the press is “under threat across the world” and the UK government is “taking steps to increase press freedoms” the Culture Secretary has said this morning (Thursday 18 May 2023).

Speaking at the Enders Media and Telecoms Conference, Lucy Frazer MP said that challenges to free, fair and truthful reporting are “coming from many quarters” and pointed to the case of Evan Gershkovich detained in Russia as well as the challenges posed by AI and fake news.

She said: “The New York Times chairman told Unesco earlier this month that ‘All over the world, independent journalists and press freedoms are under attack.’ And he was right. You only need to look at the Russian arrest of a Wall Street Journal journalist to see that.

“I know that the challenges to free, fair and truthful reporting are coming from so many quarters: from the potential misuse of AI to mis and disinformation. And that is without even mentioning the speed of the changing media landscape.”

Closer to home, the UK government was taking steps to increase press freedoms and “make sure journalists can do their jobs effectively” she said.

She added: “With measures like the protection of public service broadcasters and prominence in the draft media bill and our commitment to the repeal of section 40 or the protection of journalists in the online safety bill, we are actively guarding your ability to uphold the rights of others.

“If we want a thriving media sector in the future – our focus has to be on a free press and a press that is free to grow.”

Pointing to the government’s draft Media Bill, she said that it would update decades old regulatory framework “to level the playing field and help guarantee the long term future of those first class Public Service Broadcasters”. The bill would give Channel 4 “even greater freedoms to produce, own and sell outstanding British content across the globe” she added.

The government’s approach would be guided by three principles, she said: “Protect our public service broadcasters. Stand up for independent voices and nurture a thriving media landscape which upholds and champions fearless truth telling.”

The full text of the speech can be read here.