Bates Wells responds to Cairncross Review

Media organisations could change their funding model by registering as charities, suggests Lawrie Simanowitz.


Lawrie Simanowitz, partner in the Bates Wells Charity & Social Enterprise team, has responded to a consultation launched by the Cairncross Review. The review is the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s (DCMS) investigation into how sustainable, high-quality journalism can be nurtured at a time when the media continues to face significant commercial challenges.

In his submission to the DCMS, Lawrie principally focused on the question: “what do you consider to be the most effective and efficient policy levers to deliver a sustainable future for high quality journalism?” Arguing that “strong new measures are urgently needed to ensure the financial sustainability of the press”, he suggests that media organisations could change their funding models by registering as a charity.

Lawrie sets out in detail how this course of action could help many media organisations to map out a sustainable future in the face of unprecedented commercial upheaval. He explains that adopting charitable status could produce two significant financial benefits: several forms of tax relief would open up to these organisations, while charitable status would also encourage donations.

Addressing the practical steps that would need to be taken, Lawrie explains the conditions press organisations need to meet, including the requirement to embrace not-for-profit status in addition to demonstrating that they would be working to the “public benefit”.

The review, which is being chaired by Dame Frances Cairncross and will be supported by an expert panel, will examine:

  • The overall state of the news media market
  • Threats to financial sustainability
  • The role and impact of digital search engines and social media platforms
  • How content and data flows are operated and managed
  • The role of digital advertising

If you’d like to talk to Lawrie with regards to his views on the Cairncross Review, please contact Bates Wells’ Senior Press Officer Sam Hunter on [email protected]

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of October 9, 2018.