The future of news inquiry launched
17 January 2024
The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee has launched a new inquiry into the future of news in the UK. It will examine issues around impartiality, trust, and the impact of tech platforms and generative AI on news media business models. The inquiry comes amid the world’s largest ever election year, with over 2 billion voters going to the polls across 50 countries.
- Call for written submission
- Inquiry: The future of news: impartiality, trust and technology
- Communications and Digital Committee
A healthy news ecosystem is vital to our democratic society. Changes are underway which will have major consequences for the future of the UK’s news media. Some of the issues are longstanding, while others are new. Some are driven by external factors, others are internal to news organisations themselves. In combination they pose a formidable challenge to the UK news sector and raise questions about the viability of maintaining a trusted information environment underpinned by a healthy and financially sustainable news system.
Our inquiry will examine these challenges and explore what responses are needed from industry, Government or regulators over the next 12 months to address immediate issues, and the next five years to address long-term concerns.
The Committee invites written contributions by 12 February 2024.
Concerns have been growing over the challenges around due impartiality. Public service broadcasters are under particular pressure to serve all audiences and demonstrate their relevance in an increasingly fragmented media environment. This is becoming ever more complex in the face of political realignments, societal divides, the growing popularity of opinionated news content, and the variety of stories and alternative perspectives available online. Coverage of the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine provide recent examples of these challenges.
Trust in news remains in long-term decline, falling from 51 per cent in 2015 to 33 per cent in 2023. People are accessing news less frequently and are becoming less interested. The UK faces a general election amid fears about AI-enabled mis- and dis-information, alongside concern that over-emphasising such issues can be unhelpful and problematic.
Technology platforms and business models
Recent advances in large language models have led some media organisations to voice unease about their industry’s long-term financial sustainability. Some US technology platforms are also moving away from news content, with significant financial implications for news organisations which have relied on them for audience engagement and revenue. Online news intermediaries continue to play a key role in curating and recommending the type of news that people see; their influence may grow as generative AI tools become more widespread.
Baroness Stowell, Chairman of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, said:
“News providers are facing a challenging future: new technologies, disruption to business models, declining trust and growing concerns around impartiality all add up to a highly complex and difficult problem.
“Accurate, independent and financially sustainable news must remain a key part of our democratic society. We will be examining how this can be achieved at a time when traditional news providers are losing the trust and the support of some audiences, who are increasingly questioning their accuracy, impartiality and value.
“There has also been a significant focus on concerns about online disinformation, particularly ahead of a major election year. But equally it is important that such concerns are not used to marginalise views that differ from those who have traditionally exercised power over what is seen, heard and reported. The news industry must address this challenge carefully if all audiences are to have confidence: it is not something that can be solved simply by introducing more or different regulation.
“Our inquiry will hear from a wide range of views as we investigate these complex and vital matters. I would encourage anyone with an interest or knowledge of these issues to submit evidence via our website.”
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