Conservative Party Agrees To Drop Media Charge For Party Conference 

The Conservative Party has today agreed to drop a media charge for journalists covering its upcoming October party conference.

The decision, which will see the widely opposed “accreditation fee” for media attendance scrapped and a refund given to those who have already paid, comes after discussions between the party and industry bodies including the Foreign Press Association, the News Media Association, the News Media Coalition, and the Society of Editors.

Numerous news industry organisations and news businesses around the world had previously complained that having to pay for media accreditation at the conference was against the interests of press freedom, a barrier to reporting and would hamper open democracy. The party had said that the introduction of the fee was to discourage “over-accreditation” and the administrative burden of journalists applying but failing to turn up to the event.

The reversal will now see no charge for media attendance with those that have already applied and paid for accreditation being offered a refund. Payment for access to the media centre will continue in accordance with previous years. 

The party has also extended the deadline for applying for free press passes until 31 August.

In agreeing to scrap the fee, the party has asked that journalists and media organisations are mindful of the administrative burden of applying for places that are unlikely to be used.

The party also warned that “no shows” – without good reason – may be charged a levy when applying for future conferences.

Welcoming the change, the coalition of news representatives said: “Following dialogue between the Conservative Party and industry bodies, we welcome the decision to withdraw the media accreditation fee and refund those that have already paid.

“As recognised by the party, all party conferences provide a valuable opportunity for political parties to communicate their policies to the public and ahead of an anticipated general election year, the ability of the media to scrutinise and report freely from such events remains especially important and vital for democracy.

“In agreeing to scrap the fee, the party has asked that journalists and news organisations are mindful of the number of applications they submit to attend the conference.  While it is understood that the news agenda often dictates last minute changes, there remains a significant cost and time resource associated with accrediting applications – not least for the police.  We are grateful to the party for listening to our concerns and acting accordingly.”

Full details of how to apply and the revised deadlines for application will be added to the Conservative Conference website in the coming days. 

NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “After months of campaigning and careful negotiation, the NMA greatly welcomes the decision made today by the Conservative Party to rescind their charges for media workers. I’m delighted we’ve been able to find a workable solution to avoid these charges.

“As a society that values democracy, it is crucial that party conferences are open for journalists to report on without any financial barrier and essential that they can fulfil their vital role in holding those in power to account and provide objective reporting on behalf of the public.

“Transparency and accessibility are vital components of a healthy democracy, and ensuring journalists can report freely at these events is a step in the right direction for press freedom. Importantly, I hope this move ensures this dangerous precedent is not exported around the world.”