Regional press industry leaders have called for a meeting with the local government minister in the ongoing row over the role of council newspapers.
The Newspaper Society has written to minister Rosie Winterton this week to highlight concerns about local authority publications which compete with local media for readers and advertising revenue.
Communications director Lynne Anderson wrote: “An increasing number of local councils across the UK are actively competing with local newspapers for readers and advertising revenues, causing real damage to these local businesses at a time when they are meant to be helping them to come through the recession.”
The letter also points to worries about the government withdrawing advertising from local media and plans to remove the requirement for statutory notices to be published in local newspapers.
The NS has requested a meeting with Ms Winterton over the summer to discuss the issues raised in the letter.
Local spending watchdog the Audit Commission is currently carrying out an inquiry into whether council newspapers offer value for money to local taxpayers, but the commission has made clear it will not examine their impact on the local press.
Chris Youett (21/08/2009 16:41:35)
What planet does the NS live on? The main reason why many local authorities have set up papers is because most NS member titles simply do not cover council affairs properly any more.
The NS not only needs to reverse all the newsroom cuts its members have made over the last 25 years, but also needs to pay its staff salaries that match those in local government – which most NS employers can easily afford.
Richard Orange (21/08/2009 17:46:52)
If this is the best that editors and publishers can com up, then quite frankly it is a batting collapse of the order we have seen at the Oval today.
EU competition law is very clear on the use of public subsidy in order to secure (and then abuse) a dominant market position. It is unlawful. Instead of going down to Whitehall and bleating to a minister, or waiting for the Audit Commission to say ‘boo-hiss’ to a few council PR departments, why don’t editors and publishers take these local authorities to the High Court and challenge the practice of ploughing thousands of pounds of taxpayers cash into publications which are binned the moment they are pushed through people’s letterboxes?
Don’t wait other people to fight your commercial battles for you. Why should they?