This week, Owen Meredith, Managing Director at the Professional Publisher’s Association, talks to us about how the lobbying work the association has done on behalf of UK publishers to axe VAT on digital publications has paid off.

During the Budget last week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the current 20% tax on ebooks, online newspapers and digital editions would be abolished, bringing them in line with the tax exemption on physical copies.

Owen explains what the announcement means for publishers, why the government chose now to action this, and what’s next on the PPA’s to-do list.

In the news roundup the team takes a look at how news outlets are choosing to report on the coronavirus pandemic, ask whether a spate of hirings suggest that podcasting is a mature market, and examine whether Stylist’s new digital edition is destined for success. Chris invokes the power of「THE WORLD」to give an update on a story during the edit.

See the full transcript here.

Coronavirus roundup:

  • The NYT and a bunch of other papers have decided to drop the paywall for all their corona coverage. This is unambiguously a good idea, and hopefully will serve as a template for how newspapers can serve the public good and operate a paywall in this age of widespread misinformation
  • Lots of publishers are putting working-from-home plans in place thanks to coronavirus, but this isn’t always straightforward, as demonstrated by the New York Times Magazine this week. They apparently still rely heavily on ‘paper-proofing’ and in-person edits
  • Impact on the movie and events industries is insane. Major releases pushed back years, and the lifeblood of events-based businesses being drained away.
  • According to President Trump, Google will create a website will help Americans figure out if they need a test for the virus, and if so where they can find one. The problem is, Google knows nothing about it
  • Finally, some enterprising people have decided to launch a quarantine-focused magazine, proving that there’s no niche too niche or too ephemeral to be explored

News in brief:

  • Stylist magazine is celebrating their 500th issue with a digital magazine launch. Their print editions are in high demand, but the free distribution model means they’re struggling to expand beyond their current 400,000 a week print run, so the digital edition will help meet demand. The issue will be available on Apple News, Readly and a dedicated Stylist app, according to the Drum
  • The UK has decided to impose a 2% digital sales tax on the revenues of online companies including Google and Facebook, in a move which risks souring trade talks with the US
  • Hearst’s Runner’s World+ membership programme launched last year, and has since signed up 18,000 people, of which 13,500 are current active members paying $50 a year. Hearst is now planning to use it as a blueprint across other titles
  • Vox Media is partnering with Google to create a local advertising network called “Concert Local”. The investment is allegedly over $1 million, with funding coming through the Google News Initiative programme. A dozen publishers are on board to-date
  • HuffPost Editor in Chief Lydia Polgreen is leaving to join podcasting company Gimlet Media as head of content. Quite a coup for the Spotify-owned company…


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