United Kingdom conservatives accuse media of undermining press freedom / Willamedia

Villamedia/ANP — Tuesday, June 20, 2023, 2:49 PM | 0 comments, Join the conversation

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was mobbed by journalists during his flight to the US earlier this month – © Niall Carson

Hundreds of international media organizations accused Britain’s Conservative Party of undermining press freedom by charging fees to cover its annual conference of journalists in a statement released on Tuesday. French news agency AFP, US newspapers The New York Times and The Washington Post, and German newspaper Der Spiegel have all signed an open letter. Nearly three hundred media organizations from more than sixty countries, including China and Russia, have signed the report. On behalf of the Netherlands, it concerns NOS, NRC, Trouw, Algemeen Dagblad, De Telegraaf, BNR and NPO Radio 1.

Last modified: June 20, 2023, 2:53 pm

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ruling party asked the media for the first time to pay compensation in exchange for endorsements during last year’s conference. Again this year, the media will pay £137 (€160) to cover the conference in Manchester in October. If they apply after August 1, the costs will increase to £880 (over €1,000).

“Indeed, this decision sets a dangerous precedent for countries around the world who use this decision to justify financial and other restrictions on the media in the political process,” the report said. ‘We are therefore calling on the organizers of the Tory party conference to cancel or refund the fees and allow fair and free reporting.’

The party itself says the expenses are necessary to cover administrative costs for the “thousands” of journalists who are absent. However, the UK-based Foreign Press Association of Foreign Media said the party had not provided any evidence that journalists had failed on such a scale.

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