30th June 2021

Dear all,

We have recently made an application to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to start discussions for the release of the undertakings placed on The Times and The Sunday Times in 1981. 

The undertakings were put in place when News acquired both titles, and were created at that time to address questions relating to ownership. 

Forty years on, in a far more complex digital environment, we believe the undertakings are no longer relevant. They place an unnecessary burden on our titles, as well as creating unfair restrictions to innovation. 

In 2019 we made some amendments to the undertakings and were given some relaxations which allowed us to have more flexibility, notably sharing resources across The Times and The Sunday Times. 

We have used those relaxations to create opportunities to move faster, be more digital and use our resources effectively to prioritise investment in our journalism.

We are alone in having any undertakings that place us under government oversight. It is our belief they should now be wholly removed. 

The pandemic has accelerated the transition to digital use across our audiences and we have ambitious plans which we need to accelerate, free from outmoded restrictions and third-party oversight.  

Our existence as separate newspapers will not change. The two mastheads and unique identities of our titles are key to our success and we appreciate the value that our readers derive from the distinct differences between them. To be clear, we will maintain our distinctive voices in key areas.

Editorial independence is important to The Times and The Sunday Times and will be written into our contracts as editors, but oversight will be removed from government – currently the CMA carries out this role reporting to the government. 

We have proposed that an independent committee is formed which could adjudicate any complaints. 

Today the DCMS will issue an invitation to comment and then the secretary of state will consider the request. We will communicate more as the process progresses. 

It is our priority to protect the unique character of our brands and ensure the long-term future of our outstanding journalism. 



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