VAT win for newspapers

In a rare piece of good news for the sector, research suggests the UK’s newspaper and magazine industry stands to be at least £50m-a-year better off after the Government cut VAT for digital publications in May.

News UK looks set to be the sector’s biggest winner, reaping a potential £15m a year from the decision. The full list of estimates of likely annual benefits of the VAT change includes:

  • Times and Sunday Times: £15m
  • Financial Times: £10m
  • The Telegraph: £6m
  • The Guardian: £5m
  • The Economist: £5m
  • Mail newspapers: £2m
  • The Week: £800,000

The cut was introduced on 1 May – having previously been scheduled to come into effect on 1 December – to help publishers cope with the coronavirus pandemic. The Government announced the move alongside a pledge to spend £35m in advertising to support the print media during the COVID-19 crisis. The industry has long argued that digital news, liked printed newspapers, should be zero-rated for VAT.

Increase in online attacks on British journalists

The Society of Editors has written to Number 10 to raise concerns that the Government ‘appears to be deciding when it wishes to engage with a free media’.

Wired also reports on a change in Number 10’s communications strategy, with official Twitter accounts becoming more outspoken. It singles out lengthy blog posts calling reporting on official documents ‘simply wrong’ and ‘misleading’, and tweets from verified official handles labelling articles ‘inaccurate’ and ‘unfounded’, tagging the journalists who wrote them.

Many, including Professor Marc Owen Jones an Assistant Professor in Middle East Studies and Digital Humanities at Hamad bin Khalifa University, Doha, have been reporting an increase in cyber-harassment towards British journalists.

Newspapers under lockdown

This week reporters and editors from the i paper explain how they have continued to publish a newspaper and website under lockdown. Three-quarters of the paper’s staff have been working remotely and political correspondents have juggled home-schooling with challenging the Prime Minister during Downing Street’s virtual press conferences.

City A.M. is also predicted to be back in print from September 7. Bosses stopped running a physical copy in late March after demand fell amid the pandemic, helping the free-sheet get through the past weeks with no redundancies. The paper will be put together remotely at first, and furloughed staff are expected to begin returning over the summer. Comment and Features Editor Rachel Cunliffe tweeted this morning that she has returned from furlough and is welcoming pitches.

UK national newspapers to keep circulation private

UK national newspapers will no longer publish their monthly print circulations through the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). While April’s figures suggest that COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on sales, the cancellation of monthly statistical releases means that the exact impact of the pandemic may never be truly quantifiable. ABC said this change in reporting will help negate the ‘negative narrative of circulation decline’.


Construction, development and property firms are facing significant challenges due to the Covid-19 outbreak and the environment has changed dramatically. As we gradually move back towards business as usual, clear communication will be key. But how has coronavirus changed the media and political landscape for construction companies – and what will this mean for the future?

Join us for a panel discussion and Q&A at 11am on Thursday 4th June to consider how the industry can effectively communicate with the media, Government and customers at this critical time.

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Channel 4 is launching its first content studio to compete against LadBible and VICE, aiming to become the first UK broadcaster to offer a series of social-first branded entertainment opportunities to advertisers.

The broadcaster is launching its Leeds-based in-house digital content studio, 4Studio, previously called the Digital Creative Unit. Advertisers will be able to link up with content across all its social media channels, including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.


Emma Barrow has been appointed Head of News & Entertainment at ITV’S This Morning programme.

Rod Ardehali has been promoted to Briefings Editor at Mail+, at the Daily Mail.

Toby Green has been appointed Saturday News Editor at The Times.

David Sirota is now writing a monthly column for The Guardian. He will continue as Editor-in-Chief of Jacobin.

Kate Forrester has started as a Senior Reporter at PoliticsHome.


Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Chair Julian Knight MP tweeted his shock at the BBC’s statement on Emily Maitlis’ speech made during Tuesday night’s episode of Newsnight.

BBC bosses reprimanded the BBC2 programme’s lead presenter over a monologue in which she attacked the government’s handling of Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip to Durham, and supposedly breached the coorporation’s impartiality rules.

In the monologue Maitlis told viewers: ‘Dominic Cummings broke the rules – the country can see that and it’s shocked the Government cannot.


If your organisation needs communications advice, or you would like more information about how Lexington’s team of media experts can support you, please contact Patrick Foster, Head of Corporate Communications.