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U.K. journalists to boycott Tory conference over fees

May 28, 2023 02:46 pm | Updated 03:11 pm IST - LONDON

The decision by newsrooms to withhold from registering for this event was also being supported by the Press Gallery of Westminster political correspondents

A coalition of industry bodies, including the Foreign Press Association (FPA), called Tory party’s decision to charge journalists fees for attendance as “undemocratic” and “detrimental” to societal interests. Twitter image

Several bodies representing journalists and publishers in the U.K. have decided to boycott, for now, the U.K. Conservative Party’s annual meeting in the autumn, following the party’s decision to charge journalists fees for attendance. A coalition of industry bodies, including the Foreign Press Association (FPA), called the measure “undemocratic” and “detrimental” to societal interests.

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“In a democratic society, all party conferences are of considerable political and public importance and, as such, there should be no charging barrier for journalists to be able to act as the eyes and ears of the public by freely reporting at such events,” a statement by the FPA, the News Media Association, the Society of Editors and the News Media Coalition said. The Conservative Party began charging fees for press attendance since last year.

Industry representatives have challenged the £137 conference fee, calling it a “deeply concerning precedent in a democratic society”. The decision by newsrooms to withhold from registering for this event was also being supported by the Press Gallery of Westminster political correspondents, according to the media coalition.

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The statement cited the government’s own recent contention that it was supporting press freedoms — a claim at odds with the reality of charging journalists access fees for its main annual event.

“As a government we are taking steps to increase press freedoms and make sure journalists can do their jobs effectively,’ `Lucy Frazer , a government minister in charge of the media, sports and culture portfolio, told the Enders Media & Telecoms Conference last week, as per the statement.

No other political party in the U.K. charges journalists fees for accreditation, the coalition said.

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