Speaking in this afternoon’s Estimates Day Debate on DCMS spending, Grahame Morris MP backed calls by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for Government to provide greater support for journalists.
The Easington MP, who co-chairs the NUJ Parliamentary Group, said “The media industry was in crisis well before the pandemic hit. The fallout from Covid-19 will only worsen the situation, if adequate support and funding is not secured.”
As it stands, sector-specific support for journalists – in particular for freelances – is lacking.
He drew the Minister’s attention to the NUJ’s News Recovery Plan, which consists of a raft of measures and interventions to ensure a “pluralistic, diverse and vibrant news ecosystem.”
It sets out specific proposals for a levy based on the huge profits of big tech giants – which have increased vastly during the pandemic – to fund public interest journalism.
The failure to address major profits of tech giants will directly impact professional journalism, and result in the further abolition of invaluable regional current affairs programmes such as Inside Out.
Mr Morris condemned the Government’s failure to honour its manifesto commitment on protecting the free TV Licence for the Over-75s. This has not only had a direct impact on the lives of thousands of people, but also serious consequences for BBC budgets and, in turn, jobs.
The Easington MP went on to advocate for better support for freelances.
He said, “The pandemic has further exposed the precarious nature of freelance work and relative lack of protection for freelances.
I would once again draw the Minister’s attention to the National Union of Journalists’ Freelance Charter, which sets out ten proposals to secure a fair deal for freelances.
This includes trades union collective bargaining to improve terms and conditions for freelances and Equalised rights with employees including; sick pay; maternity, paternity and parental leave; unemployment benefit; full access to benefits and social securities.”
Mr Morris concluded by urging the Minister to work constructively with the National Union of Journalists to ensure that those who continue to be excluded have the support that they need.