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January 9, 2018

Matt Hancock promoted to Culture Secretary as Karen Bradley moved in reshuffle

By Freddy Mayhew

Matt Hancock has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, replacing Karen Bradley who takes on the portfolio for Northern Ireland.

The changes were made in a cabinet reshuffle yesterday, with Hancock promoted from Culture Minister – a position he had held since July last year.

Hancock said in May that finding an “appropriate funding relationship” between advertising and journalistic content is “incredibly important”.

The Tory MP had been responding to a question from Press Gazette about what he thought of Facebook and Google’s dominance of the advertising market, with little payback to the publishers upon whose content they rely.

Press Gazette is running a campaign against Facebook and Google – known collectively as the Duopoly – calling on them to stop destroying journalism and pay more back to news publishers.

Hancock said: “Making sure that there is the appropriate support and the appropriate funding relationship between the producer of the content and the advertising that pays for it, I think that is incredibly important.”

He added: “We have got to make sure that we find a sustainable funding model for the media industry that will ensure high quality journalism, without fear or favour, is properly supported and funded by the people who enjoy its content.

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“And that is not only important on a commercial basis, but… for the public service too, and so it’s very important that we get this right.”

While Minister for the Cabinet Office, Hancock was the focus of a Press Gazette petition against plans to weaken the Freedom of Information Act that was ultimately successful in helping stop changes to the law.

Hancock had said that after the review of the act it had been found to be “working well”.

Bradley’s departure from the DCMS casts further doubt over when the government will respond to a public consultation on whether to go ahead with part two of the Leveson Inquiry and impose Section 40.

A decision had been expected before Christmas but has been further delayed following Sir Brian Leveson’s request to see responses from newspapers.

The DCMS told Press Gazette earlier this month that the response would be published this year but there was no definite timescale.

Under Section 40, any newspaper publisher not signed up to a Royal Charter recognised regulator would be liable to pay court costs for both sides, win or lose. It has been strongly opposed by the majority of publishers.

The Conservatives pledged to scrap Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act in their election manifesto.

Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

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