What should be the top media priority for the next government?

What should be the top media priority for the next government?

With a general election set for 4 July, just over five weeks away, policy priorities are being set out by all campaigning parties.

The wash-up period, where legislation is passed before Parliament is dissolved, saw the Media Bill and Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill passed into law.

But other legislation, which was either already part of the way to becoming law or only at the discussion stage, could also have a huge impact on media and advertising professionals.

From addressing concerns around online safety through to regulation and AI, industry leaders share what they want to see prioritised by the next government to help the media industry.

Pippa Glucklich CEO, Electric Glue

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“The next government should push back against a total ban on smartphones for under-16s. They aid in digital literacy, safety, access to information and social development.

“Teaching responsible use, helping children navigate the digital world safely, will be more effective than banning. But existing online regulations certainly need tightening.

“Here’s my top five areas that need to be built upon by the next Government:

“Boost online safety: The current Online Safety Bill tackles harmful content, but it should be amped up with specific protections for kids — like mandatory safety features and digital literacy education.

“Upgrade data privacy: We’ve got strong data protection with GDPR, but we should be pushing harder for platforms to be more transparent about how they use our data, so users and the government know exactly what’s happening with user data.

“Tougher competition rules: The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill covers some competition ground, but we need to go further to clamp down on monopolies and make sure all platforms can compete fairly.

“More accountability and transparency: Current rules are vague on platform transparency around algorithms and content moderation. A new framework should require detailed disclosures, making platforms more accountable to users and regulators.

“Clearer AI and IP guidelines: We’re still figuring out AI and intellectual property rules, but we need guidelines right now to ensure AI respects IP rights and follows ethical standards.”

Henry Daglish, co-founder, Bicycle

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“Let’s be honest: the next Government is going to have a huge amount on its plate when it comes to everything let alone media… and with that in mind the biggest challenge will be around being able to keep media reform a priority per se.

“That aside, there are two priorities — firstly, they will have to show some ability to hold the duopoly to account when it comes to taking better responsibility within the UK.

“As advertisers there’s been this ever growing elephant in the room in relation to legislation around HFSS and gambling specifically — in both instances our industry has been heavily supporting the case for self-regulation and the application of common sense.

“My concern is that both these areas will become a key battle ground where attention-grabbing commitments are made that pay no attention to the hard work that our industry has done in helping present a case for progressive change — ultimately resulting in significant negative impact on our industry that need not have happened with a little common sense.”

Sajeeda Merali, CEO at the PPA

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“The next Government will need to implement a regulatory regime for AI.

“This issue under the current administration has been unresolved, which has left copyrighted content vulnerable to infringement from Open AI systems. Our members need a government that protects copyright, allowing for a fair, sustainable and trusted media ecosystem.”

Matt Payton, CEO, Radiocentre

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“The fact the Media Bill and Digital Markets Bill were both passed in the last Parliament might take some of the pressure off an incoming Government to act immediately on media issues. Implementation will be crucial, but the framework for prominence, availability and regulation has now been agreed.

“Looking ahead, there will be understandable calls to ensure responsible use of AI given its disproportionate impact on media. However, as the BBC’s remit and funding will need to be resolved by 2027 in a way that satisfies audiences and doesn’t damage competition, I’d expect this to become a top media priority.”

Lindsey Clay, CEO, Thinkbox

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“Decarbonise the grid. Not an immediately obvious media priority maybe, but it will hugely help our industry’s progress towards net zero.

“It isn’t the complete answer of course – media owners, production companies, hardware manufacturers, DSPs, ISPs… all have a responsibility to increase energy efficiency.

“But decarbonising the grid is a foundation stone for media’s sustainable future, as well as society’s as a whole.”

Chris Gilfoy, head of strategy, the7stars

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“Beyond the recent passing of the Media Bill and the IPA’s suggested key policy areas for the next Government, I feel the most pressing media priorities for the next government will be online safety — particularly the protection of under-16s — and the significant environmental impact of the advertising industry.

“Both are emotive issues where the headlines are easier to write than the policies would be to deliver, but both offer the chance for a government to be seen as taking decisive action.

“Whilst I can’t see the mooted ban on smartphones for under-16s becoming reality, any parent would agree that support in navigating the smartphone minefield would be both important and welcomed.”

Ellie Malpas, senior strategist, Media Bounty

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“Misinformation. It has the power to dismantle democracies and drum up opposition to essential climate policy. According to the World Economic Forum, it’s the biggest threat to destabilize global order.

“Despite this, current legislation under the UK Online Safety Bill is not equipped to protect us. No regulations are in place to demand social media platforms to have clear policies on harmful health misinformation, election disinformation, or misinformation during crises like terror attacks.

“Developments in AI make the risk of disinformation and misinformation even stronger. Generated fake news bots infamously influenced the Brexit referendum, and since then capabilities have only grown. AI can now generate human-esque written content and realistic fake images in a matter of seconds.

“Technology is advancing faster than regulators can keep up with. The next Government must act urgently to develop a solid framework that holds social media platforms and tech developers accountable for the spread of false information.”

Tim Lumb, director, Outsmart

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“The economy is the major theme of Labour’s election campaign and they’re emphasising stability, growth and being friendly to business.

“Advertising is an important lever for economic growth and for businesses, plus its been around forever (stable!) – so in theory at least – new advertising restrictions would undermine their pledge.

“In particular, OOH advertising helps fund public services with around 46% of OOH advertising revenue going back into the economy by providing vital social infrastructure like bus shelters, public telephony/wi-fi and defibrillators, as Andy Burnham (Labour) recently noted.”

Hamid Habib, MD, Havas Entertainment

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“Protect and place more major sporting events on terrestrial TV. Despite the challenges, terrestrial channels are doing a sterling job, but they are faced with ever-increasing competition from streaming platforms.

“We also need better support for grassroots culture. While our major cultural institutions thrive, nurturing community-level culture is crucial, providing better access to smaller venues, events, music venues, theatre spaces and independent cinemas.

“And last but not least, never put someone as utterly stupid, incompetent and wildly unqualified as Nadine Dorries into the position of Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.”

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