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Half of Brits say quality of news has declined in past five years as Cairncross Review heads to Brussels

The Cairncross Review has been to Brussels on a “fact-finding mission” to examine the “Europe-wide problem” of sustainability in the news industry.

It comes as the Government-led review has published the results of a new survey that shows almost half of UK adults think the quality of news has declined over the past five years.

The Cairncross Review, led by Dame Frances Cairncross, launched earlier this year to look at ways of safeguarding the industry amid a widespread decline in print circulation and ad revenues.

She said: “The challenges facing the press are not unique to the UK and it is vital that my review listens to the experiences of other countries.

“I look forward to learning more in Brussels about the questions industry and policy makers are grappling with and the solutions they are considering to ensure the future of the free press is protected.”

Cairncross spoke with the European Publishers’ Council and representatives of the Digital Economy in the European Commission on Monday.

Her mission was seeking to establish what other European governments are doing to “protect the creation and consumption of accurate and financially sustainable journalism”, according to a spokesperson.

More broadly, her remit includes examining whether there is an appetite for regulation of tech giants such as Facebook and Google “to counter the disrupting influence of online platforms on the press industry”.

She is also gauging views on whether the buying and selling of online advertising could be made more transparent.

A call for evidence to be submitted to the review closes on 14 September.

An 11-strong advisory panel made up of news media industry experts will then examine the evidence, with a report expected early next year.

An online survey of 2,020 British adults’ newspaper habits conducted by YouGov last month for the review found that 47 per cent of adults believe the quality of news available has declined in the past five years.

The survey also found that more people are now regularly accessing national newspaper content online via apps and websites (28 per cent) than in print (22 per cent).

Almost a third (31 per cent) said they pay more attention to what they read in a printed newspaper than online news, although 55 per cent think they give the same level of attention to both.

In June, a preliminary report commissioned for the review found that circulation and print ad revenues for news publishers had dropped by more than half over the last decade from nearly £7bn to just over £3bn.

According to the findings, the number of frontline print journalists has dropped by more than a quarter over the same period, from about 23,000 in 2007 to 17,000 last year.

The latest survey found that although local or regional news is important to 76 per cent of those who regularly access news, just 13 per cent of adults read a local or regional newspaper in print or online.

However almost two thirds (61 per cent) said enough local news was on offer where they live.

In a statement alongside the survey results, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “This further emphasises the challenge posed to local newspapers – there is a disconnect between those who think local news is important and those who seek out such news via a local paper.”

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