NMA: Third Party Election Campaigning Proposals Must Not Restrict Press Freedom 

Proposals looking at changing the regulations around election campaigning by third parties must not result in a dampening effect upon press freedom, the News Media Association has said.   

A consultation being conducted by the Third Party Campaigning Review with the Cabinet Office is looking at the current elements of the regulatory system and exploring what the future of third party campaigning may look like. 

The consultation document notes that organisations spending small amounts of money are subject to regulations while other larger “participants” in the electoral process, such as newspapers and lobbying companies, are not. 

The document goes on to ask whether regulation is necessary and if it would be implemented through controls on spend or the type of campaigning activity.

The NMA, which will be responding to the consultation before it closes tomorrow, has said that any changes to the regime must not result in the exemption for newspaper editorial campaigning being lost.  

Lucy Gill, NMA legal, policy and regulatory affairs advisor, said: “Newspapers are a critically important source of information for the public during the election period and their freedom to report and campaign must be upheld.

“Any changes to the third party campaign regulations must not impact upon newspapers’ ability to robustly hold politicians and political parties to account on behalf of the public.

“Any form of restriction on editorial campaigning during the election period, or at any other time, would constitute a grave attack on press freedom and the core of the democratic process.”