On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to DCMS requesting that the Secretary of State accept proposed undertakings in place of undertakings that were put in place by the then Secretary of State for Trade (the right hon. John Biffin) in 1981.
The proposed new undertakings seek to vary the sections of the 1981 conditions which require that ultimate control over the resources, including journalists, available to each newspaper are kept separately with the editor of each newspaper. The main variation proposed by News UK is to set out explicitly in paragraph 5 of the proposed undertakings that:
“The newspapers may share services and resources, including journalists, to such extent as the editors agree.”
News UK has submitted that the changes would permit a greater sharing of resources and services, including journalists, between The Times and The Sunday Times and that such sharing is a necessary step to mitigate the financial challenges that the two titles will face in the future.
I am placing in the Library of the House today a copy of the application we received from News UK along with details on how to comment on the application. The deadline for comments is 5pm on Monday 11 February. This application will be considered in a quasi-judicial manner through a fair and transparent process.
If, after considering the responses, my decision is to accept the new undertakings, there will be a further consultation on the terms of the new undertakings as required by the legislation.
The proposed undertakings are also available online at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements.