Section 40 scrapped, support for BBC World Service and three comms campaigns feature in Conservative manifesto

The Conservative Party manifesto has pledged to scrap 'flawed' plans for new rules on press regulation, pledged support for the BBC World Service and trailed three comms campaigns.

It will come as a relief to many in the world of journalism that the party has promised to scrap the Section 40 powers that would create a tougher press regulator.

The party pledged: "We will repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014, which, if enacted, would force media organisations to become members of a flawed regulatory system or risk having to pay the legal costs of both sides in libel and privacy cases, even if they win."

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A new Conservative Government would also not embark on Part Two of the Leveson inquiry, the manifesto says.

"Given the comprehensive nature of the first stage of the Leveson Inquiry and given the lengthy investigations by the police and Crown Prosecution Service into alleged wrongdoing, we will not proceed with the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press," it reads.

The Conservative manifesto makes pledges of support for comms campaigns, including:

  • "A national campaign to increase the number of black, Asian and ethnic minority organ donors"
  • "We will encourage the world to visit, study and do business in the UK through the GREAT Britain campaign and Visit Britain"
  • "We will also create a power in law for government to introduce an industry-wide levy from social media companies and communication service providers to support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms, just as is already the case with the gambling industry"

Labour's manifesto accused the Conservatives of failing to support the BBC and its independence.

The Conservative manifesto makes just one mention of the BBC - saying it will place it (and charity the British Council) "on a secure footing so they are able to promote the best of British values around the globe". However, it also commits "to promote democracy, the rule of law, property entitlements, a free and open media".

This chimes with comments from BBC's comms chief at a PRWeek event last year, that the World Service was "hugely treasured", and "very important in projecting soft power and British values".

The Conservative manifesto also says it will "continue to push the internet companies to deliver on their commitments to develop technical tools to identify and remove terrorist propaganda".

Another media pledge from the Tories is to "ensure there is a sustainable business model for high-quality media online, to create a level playing field for our media and creative industries".

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