UKIP leader Nigel Farage has spoken out against plans for a Royal Charter on press regulation, which he fears will sound the “death knell” for local newspapers.
The party leader has written a comment piece saying that he believes the impact of press regulation would be worse for regional newspapers than their national counterparts.
Mr Farage highlighted how “the blow will land hardest on local newspapers and micro news sites” which he said were already in a “in financial trouble and are stripped to the bone”.
Writing in The Indepdendent, he strongly criticised the government’s plans for press regulation, saying it would “throw chains around our press”, despite himself being an alleged victim of phone hacking.
Mr Farage said of the local press: “They are the lifeblood of local communities and do an astounding job in holding organisations to account.
“Stories of immense local importance are covered that are seen as too parochial for the nationals, but are of a far greater importance to the way we live than much of what passes across the national stage.
“It is well known these smaller media outlets are in financial trouble and are stripped to the bone. Fewer and fewer journalists attempt to fill the pages with stories.
“But the rules that are now set to govern the great and the good: the Guardians, Mails and Spectators of this world, papers and journals with large bank balances and rosters of journalists, who clash regularly with politicians and celebrities, are set to sound the death knell on the local media.
“Local papers are very different from the nationals. They are reliant on the local whistle-blower, in order to hold local authorities to account and the young journalist keen to make their break and pursue a story.
“Fat on council tax money, local authorities are frequently happy to bully and silence local voices of opposition. Time and time again the threat of legal action has been used to stifle debate and press regulation will only exacerbate this.
“It is already difficult enough for the local press. Add on top of this, pressure from politicians’ Royal Charter and independent local reporting becomes commercially unviable. This double whammy will ring the death knell of independent journalism in the provinces.”
Mr Farage added that hyperlocal news websites could also be badly hit and would be “big losers in this battle”.
The government’s plans for the Royal Charter, which are backed by the three main parties, are set to go to the Privy Council for final approval on 30 October.