The orthodox interpretation of the development of the British press has remained unchanged for over a century. ‘The British press,’ writes David Chaney, ‘is generally agreed to have attained its freedom around the middle of the nineteenth century.’ This view, first advanced in pioneer Victorian histories of journalism, has been repeated uncritically ever since.
The winning of press freedom is attributed in part to a heroic struggle against state repression. The key events in this struggle are generally said to be the abolition of the Court of Star Chamber in 1641, the ending of press licensing in 1694, Fox's Libel Act, 1792, and the repeal of press taxation - the soc-called 'taxes on knowledge' - in the period 1853-61. Only with the last of these reforms, its is claimed, did the press become fully free.
It is also argued that the market development of the press contributed to its emancipation. Indeed, some researchers place greater emphasis on this than on the fight against restrictive laws. ... The growth of newspaper profits, largely from advertising, supposedly rescued the press from its compromising dependence on state or party subsidies.
... Orthodox histories of the press, with their stress on the free market and legal emancipation as the foundations of press freedom, provide a powerful, mythological account with a political moral. [p.3]This narrative, or discourse, of history remains relevant today; it continues to shape and influence the way our media is regulated:
...the Peacock Committe, appointed by the Thatcher government to investigate funding of the BBC - retold the history of the dismantling of press censorship as a prelude to arguing for the eventual removal of all broadcasting regulation (which it equated with 'censorship'). In effect, it deployed a particular view of newspaper history to advocate the reconstruction of television along the free market lines of the press. [C+S 2010:4]
(3) http://m.friendfeed-media.com/b3ba13c4c6809d607b58d4136cf69b7d730134e5 - Chapter 3 (limited page views; this is 6th ed. of C+S book)
(4) https://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/528 - scroll down about 2/3 of the way to find: 'Finally, in this section of the book, Hampton discusses two issues in which the educational ideal played a major role: the abolition of stamp duty and the argument about anonymity in the press.'
*search strategy: 'press stamp duty' turned up lots of hits on housing stamp duty; I added 'Curran' to the search and results were much more relevant