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‘Press’: Newspaper Industry Drama Coming to PBS’ ‘Masterpiece’ From ‘King Charles III’ Playwright

TCA: Freedom of the press, hacking scandals and the increasing competitive landscape will be examined in the series.

"Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton, Tim Piggott-Smith, Charlotte Riley and writer Mike Bartlett on a panel for "King Charles III"

“Masterpiece” executive producer Rebecca Eaton, Tim Piggott-Smith, Charlotte Riley and writer Mike Bartlett on a panel for “King Charles III”

Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Stop the presses. PBS’ “Masterpiece” will co-produce “Press,” a drama about the current state of the newspaper industry.

“Masterpiece” executive producer Rebecca Eaton announced the project at the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday. “Press” will focus on two rival publications and examine the uncertain media landscape. Today’s newspaper industry is a different beast from what it was, and the hacking scandals, 24-hour news cycle, digital innovations, and competitive natures are just part of the drama.

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Mike Bartlett, who has written two episodes of the show so far, will executive produce.  “Journalists are under threat in different places,” Bartlett told reporters at TCA. “I’m telling a story and I don’t know how it ends.”

He cited attempts to limit press in England, Trump’s takedown of a reporter at his most recent press conference and the lack of money as reasons for the business’ hazy future. It’s a topic that has interested Bartlett for quite some time. In his play “King Charles III,” which he also adapted for “Masterpiece” this year, the newly crowned King Charles is faced with signing a bill that would curtail the freedom of the press.

Bartlett’s interest is personal as well, since he likes to consume news the old-fashioned way. “Buying a paper is like listening to vinyl,” he said. “It’s an experience I choose to have instead of reading on my phone.”

Nigel Stafford-Clark, who is producing the show, said in a statement, “At a time when both the nature and the role of the press have themselves become part of the news, there’s never been a better moment to focus on this unique world as the basis of a major television series. And I can’t think of anyone better to take that on than Mike Bartlett.”

The series will be “Masterpiece” co-production with Deep Indigo, Lookout Point and BBC Studios for BBC ONE.

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