Oliver Dowden – 2021 Statement on News UK

The statement made by Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in the House of Commons on 24 June 2021.

On 1 February 2021, News UK submitted an application to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport requesting that I release in full the undertakings that were accepted by the then Secretary of State, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright), in 2019, to replace conditions put in place by the then Secretary of State for Trade, the right hon. John Biffin MP, in 1981.

News UK has submitted that the changes in the newspaper industry and the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic mean that the undertakings are no longer necessary.

They note that the undertakings place them at a competitive disadvantage to other newspapers, and that the release is necessary to allow the continued provision of quality news by The Times and The Sunday Times.

Copies of the invitation to comment and the application documents will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The deadline for comments is 5 pm on 15 July. This application will be considered in a quasi-judicial manner through a fair and transparent process.

If, after considering the responses, I am minded to release, or vary the undertakings, there will be a further consultation on my decision as required by legislation.