NMA Issues Joint Statement Objecting To Press Charges At Party Conferences
The News Media Association has issued a joint statement with other UK news media industry bodies and free speech organisations objecting to the introduction of charges for media coverage of Party conferences.
The statement, coordinated by the News Media Association, Society of Editors, Foreign Press Association, and the News Media Coalition, called for the charges to be dropped, warning that they pose a risk to open democracy.
The statement was signed by ARTICLE 19, Association of European Journalists, Commonwealth Press Union, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Index on Censorship, International Press Institute (IPI), National Union of Journalists, openDemocracy, Professional Publishers Association, the Scottish Newspaper Society and the Rory Peck Trust.
The statement reads: “Our organisations, representing print, online, and broadcast media and free speech organisations object to the introduction of charging for media access to the Party Conferences this Autumn.
“A fundamental tenet of a free and democratic society is the principle of open government, and we believe this is best served by enabling journalists to freely report on matters of public interest and to stimulate political debate.
“For any political party to restrict fair access by charging newsgatherers to attend conferences flies in the face of their public commitments to press freedom. While we understand staging well-administered and secure events is costly, the news industry already contributes significantly by putting its reporting teams on the ground, backed by newsroom operations.
“Admission fees, such as the £125 imposed by the Conservative Party, could have a particularly profound impact on freelance journalists, smaller outlets, local journalists and foreign correspondents. At a time when the UK government continues to assert its credentials globally, as a bastion of media freedom, this decision sets a dangerous precedent for countries around the world who will use this decision to justify financial and other barriers to media scrutiny of the political process.
“We therefore call upon party conference organisers to commit to enabling a free press to inform society by withdrawing any charges on journalists to attend conferences.
“Any such attendance fees are a tax on democracy, organisers must scrap the media access charges now.”