Prime Minister announces review into the future of British press

On 6th February 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a review into the future of newspapers. Speaking in Manchester, the Prime Minister noted that the closure of titles was a “danger to our democracy”. She also highlighted that journalism is “a huge force for good”, but is under threat due to modern technology, falling circulations, and the closure of local papers.

In a press release issued by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, it was outlined that the review will examine the overall health of the news media, the range of news available and how the press is adapting to the new digital market.

The review will also focus on the local and regional press, the operation of the digital advertising supply chain, as well as ‘clickbait’ and low quality news.

Commenting on the news David Dinsmore, News Media Association (NMA) chairman, said, "The NMA welcomes this announcement on behalf of the national, regional and local news media industry. This review acknowledges the importance of journalism in a democratic society, the vital role that the press takes in holding the powerful to account and producing verified news which informs the public.

“Viable business models must be found that ensure a wide variety of media are able to have a long and healthy future. Through digital platforms, news content is more widely consumed than ever before but the revenues to sustain the investment in that quality content are challenged. This review on a sustainable future is very welcome.”

Henry Jones, Managing Director at NLA media access comments, “NLA media access provides an important source of revenue to hundreds of UK publishers and is committed to continuing to support quality journalism. We welcome the government’s announcement and believe more should be done to protect the future of our world-class national, regional and local news.

“With the increasing number of threats to journalism, from the rise of digital platforms challenging revenue streams, to the growing presence of fake news adding questions of authority and authenticity, now more than ever it is important to do what we can to support news publishers, so they can continue to uphold their role in society.”

Read more about how NLA media access supports journalism here.


NLA media access expands overseas content for licensees by growing portfolio with two international agreements

NLA media access has bolstered its range of international partnerships with the inclusion of both Poland and Australia to its portfolio of news content. This means that NLA licence holders now have access to, and the ability to share, significantly more content from across the globe.


January 2018 saw NLA media access partner with Copyright Agency (Australia) which allows licence holders access to leading Australian content from the likes of Australian Financial Review, The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald.

NLA has also extended the rights it grants Copyright Australia for UK content to include most Asia Pacific countries.


In late 2017, Polish news licensing body Repropol and NLA media access agreed an exchange of rights. This agreement allows both organisations to license each other’s content to their respective media monitoring clients and licensees creating an even more comprehensive solution.

Jan Ruranski, board member at Repropol, added: “Extending our licence coverage to include leading UK content will be welcomed by our users, and our publishers will benefit from NLA’s licensing of Polish content in the UK.  The new agreement demonstrates our commitment to licensing, and to working in partnership with the many established licensing bodies, both in Europe and further afield.”

2018 and beyond

Commenting on the two agreements, Andrew Hughes, International Director at NLA media access, noted:

“With the growth of a globalised media landscape, it’s our job to make sure our licensees can access the content they need.

“Ease of use is essential for everyone and these partnerships are further steps towards making copyright compliance easier for users of monitoring services. Our users in the UK and abroad have requested wider coverage and we are responding. This is a further significant extension of the NLA international content offering and we are confident the UK and international markets will welcome this development” 

With a mission to support journalism as well as provide the best possible service for media monitoring companies and clients, NLA media access will be announcing more agreements this year to further extend its service.

About NLA media access

NLA media access was first established in 1996 and protects the publishing industry's copyright through collective licensing.  Its role is to enable over 200,000 organisations, including media monitoring clients and licensees, to reproduce content from over 3,600 newspaper and magazine titles with permission. Since its creation, NLA’s portfolio has expanded and currently consists of thousands of titles, both online and in print. In 2016, the company returned £36m to publishers. NLA also offers several cost saving services for publishers, including Clipshare - a fully searchable archive of newspaper and magazine content dating back to 2006. 


Why regional and local publishers are winning readers’ trust

With the rise of smartphones and digital platforms over the last ten years, online news content has risen exponentially. While undoubtedly this has put pressure on the publishers of regional and local newspapers, it has also created an exciting prospect for them.

An opportunity to earn audience trust

A survey from Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University found that trust in social media is declining. The research found that just 18% of those in the UK believe that social media does a good job of separating fact from fiction.

These circumstances have fostered a unique opportunity for local and regional newspapers, as a good example of being a source of information in the media.

Establishing trust with audiences is a topic that was echoed at the recent Digital Journalism Summit, hosted by Press Gazette. In the words of Newsquest CEO Henry Faure Walker, “Local news brands beat Facebook hands down when it comes to trust and relevance”.

The importance of this cannot be understated for regional and local publishers. While trust in credibility has declined in the ever-increasingly fragmented world of the general media, regional and local publishers can boast long-standing credibility with their audiences.

In fact, Faure Walker stressed this when he went on to say, “At Newsquest most of our daily news sites are read at least once a month by over 70% of adults in our respective towns and cities across the U.K.  When you consider that Facebook’s audience penetration is only 50% and now plateauing, you start to appreciate the power of local news brands.”

Another attendee of the Summit, Alison Gow of Trinity Mirror Regionals, built on this, saying: “People care about what affects them, and the human faces at the front of it. Gain the trust of people – know your patch, and get good content. Let people tell the story.”

With a focus on what’s happening in the community, local and regional papers have a track record of putting people at the heart of their news content and in turn, earn trust with their readers.

An opportunity to deliver trust to advertisers

Trust builds brand loyalty; something that’s particularly important as news consumption habits evolve.  In an ever-changing and challenging market, regional publishers are working together, not against each other. One result of this collaboration is 1XL, which represents over 30 regional newspaper publishers.

Speaking directly to NLA media access, Faure Walker (also one of the founders of 1XL) said: Online, local news sites are nearly three times more trusted than social media. Brands who advertise with us know that they will not appear next to any inappropriate content.  Unlike Facebook or YouTube, our content is curated and checked by thousands of hard-working professional journalists up and down the country.

“And because of this we deliver great results for our advertisers.  Through industry collaboration such as 1XL, which brings together 30 regional publishers across the UK, we have also become much easier to transact with.

“It is vital that national advertisers and their ad agencies make the most of what we have to offer as a sector.  And they can do so in the knowledge that advertising with us also helps to sustain great local journalism, a great public good and a backbone of local democracy.”

What NLA media access is doing in the fight for real news  

NLA works hard to support publishers wherever possible and will continue to do so.  The company not only provides copyright protection to these trusted publishers, but it also returns over 80 per cent of revenue back to national and regional publishers allowing them to reinvest this money into supporting quality journalism.

If you want to find out more about what we do, head to the company’s website:

And to take a look at what NLA is doing to help combat fake news, find out about our OATS product here.


Blockchain: How can it de-fake news?

The first week of October saw the 49th FIBEP World Media Intelligence Congress in Berlin, an opportunity for media monitoring companies from around the world to meet, network, exchange ideas and experiences, and listen to a range of talks and panels on areas of interest to the sector. The theme of this year’s congress was ‘Media Intelligence and the New Paradigm of Brand Communication.’

I attended, meeting clients as well as new faces providing the opportunity in getting up to date with the issues that face MMOs, one talk in particular stood out as having interest for those of us who work in publishing; the handling of content and copyright. It spurred me on to go and read up on how this technology can be used in our sector.

The talk in question was given by Dr. Elisabeth Hödl from Ubifacts in Austria and was entitled ‘Solving Trust Issues through Blockchain’.  

For the uninitiated (as I was myself a week ago) this blog post by Nik Custodio on Coindesk has the best explanation I have come across: Bitcoin explanation even a five year old will understand. To encapsulate something that is really quite complex into a bitesize blog friendly chunk, it might be helpful to describe Blockchain as a publicly accessible, decentralised ledger - a giant network, which records transactions.  Since it allows near instantaneous transfers anywhere in a matter of seconds without the need for banks or the involvement of any authorities, its primary application has been in the financial sectors. (You may have heard about its most famous application – the digital currency Bitcoin for example)

What does it mean for those of us who work in publishing and copyright?

The relevant applications are twofold – one, it has relevance for news sites looking to monetise content (see the New Scientist blog post) and two, as a means to validate content to combat fake news. It’s the latter that I will focus on here.

The democratisation of content in the online age and all its attendant benefits is well documented elsewhere, but it has also brought a sizeable pitfall to the news landscape in the digital age: Verifiability. How can readers be assured that what they are reading online is trustworthy? The most recent, very obvious and noisy icon of the fake news issue is the 2016 US elections during which even the mainstream US outlets engaged in public mudslinging about bias.

A number of start-ups have recently waded into the fray with novel ideas to use Blockchain to combat this very 21st Century problem. Snip and Userfeeds are two of the best known, and aim to utilise that ‘decentralisation’ that I talked about above to help readers navigate the mass of content with open eyes.

Snip, as the name suggests, offers concise news stories, covering a wide range of topics. Snip uses SnipCoin, its proprietary ‘cryptocurrency’ and the community of writers who write the stories on Snip are ‘paid’ in SnipCoins. These can be used by readers and advertisers alike to spend on the platform. The important bit here is that readers can rate content and flag them as erroneous or fake, ensuring that users get to vet the content for other users.

So, what next? As is often the case with new technologies, nothing will happen quickly and there is much work to be done. However, in a world where fake news is a real concern with real impact on revenue lines, the implementation of new technologies like Blockchain to the publishing sector can only be a help. Clearly, whether an article is actually ‘true’ or not, is outside of the scope of Blockchain, but until that point such technology exists, this seems like a very good start.


IP Crime and Enforcement

Our friends at the Intellectual Property Office have produced their annual blockbuster report into IP crime and enforcement. Weighing in at a hefty 117 pages, it covers both physical counterfeiting of goods and online IP infringement, and contains many encouraging examples of action being taken to tackle what is theft by any other name. Take a look at it here.


NLA media access is supportive of the efforts being made by the IPO and its partners in copyright enforcement for the very simple reason that we believe that creativity has value, and that value has to be protected. That applies to journalists and publishers just as much as it does to the many other areas of IP in the report. All of us in the creative industries – whether in publishing, music, film, TV, photography or design – have a common interest here.


In our case protecting IP is not only a matter of rhetoric. Our work translates into money that is reinvested into journalism - £35m to publishers in 2016, for example. That is a return which we have worked to increase, year by year, since the NLA was established.


Our commitment to boosting publisher revenues is a constant. But how we do that has changed – and the IPO report makes clear that change is essential, simply because IP infringement has itself become more sophisticated and digital technology has made copying and distributing content very simple for the unscrupulous.


We take action wherever we can. We ensure that the use of copyright material produced by newspaper and magazine publishers is paid for; we’ve moved from licensing physical copying to online distribution; and we pursue offenders including via our online copyright infringement service OATS. We are committed to innovation in copyright protection and licensing – and that includes making the licensing system simpler and more affordable to encourage compliance.


As Jo Johnson, the minister responsible for the IPO observes in the report: ‘without [IP] innovators do not get paid, legitimate business cannot thrive, consumers suffer and…criminals prosper’. In that spirit NLA is going to continue to work to ensure that newspapers and magazines get a fair return and infringement is minimised.