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Publishers and BBC demand Johnson does more to tackle tech giants

Boris JohnsonCommercial publishers and broadcasters have joined forces with the BBC to call for Boris Johnson to secure a “healthy future for independent media”.

British news organisations have united to demand the Prime Minister brings forward legislation to put the new Digital Markets Unit on a statutory footing early in the next Parliamentary session.

The DMU was launched last year by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport aimed at getting a “fair deal” for news publishers from tech giants like Google and Facebook.

Media firms have now called for the necessary statutory powers to be introduced and underpin the Unit’s work in a letter sent to the Prime Minister, pictured.

The letter has been signed by representatives from the News Media Association, Radiocentre, Professional Publishers Association, Association of Online Publishers, Publishers Association, BBC, Channel 4 and ITN.

It states: “By moving quickly and including the legislation in the Queen’s Speech in May, you will not only take the first step towards ensuring a healthy future for independent media, but you will position the UK as a world leader in tackling the imbalance of power between media providers and the tech platforms which threatens to deprive the public of the trusted news and information they require.

“Any delay to the legislation risks the UK slipping behind other jurisdictions.

“We welcome the efforts of government to date on this vital issue, but our sectors cannot afford any further delay to this critical legislation.”

The Unit initially launched in ‘shadow’ non-statutory form, ahead of legislation granting its full powers, to examine with communications regulator Ofcom how a new code of conduct would govern the relationships between platforms and publishers.

DCMS says a new code would would “pave the way for the future rules of the road” when it comes to the relationship between platforms and content providers and therefore help to “boost the sustainability of the press”.