Local authorities in Wales are spending around £1m a year on producing council newspapers, a freedom of information request has revealed.
The UK Government has issued guidance for councils in England to stop producing so-called ‘town hall Pravdas’ in order to save money and boost local journalism.
However the advice does not extend to Wales as responsibility for overseeing its local government is devolved to the Welsh Assembly.
By contrast, guidence from the Welsh Government says council newspapers can be useful in ‘informing the public about the activities and services of the council.’
Currently 18 of the 22 Welsh local authorities produce a free newspaper, with councils between them printing more than 11m papers a year.
A Freedom of Information request by ITV Wales has revealed the overall cost of producing the papers was around £1m a year.
UK Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis MP is urging Welsh taxpayers to ‘challenge their local authorities’ about the spending.
But his Welsh counterpart Lesley Griffiths AM said she didn’t believe the free council papers have a negative effect on local journalism.
A spokesman for the Newspaper Society said: “Council papers which compete unfairly with independent local media for readers and advertising are a complete waste of taxpayers’ money and must be stopped.
“The NS has been supportive of the government’s efforts to crack down on council papers in England and would welcome similar measures in Wales which would benefit both the local media industry and general public there.”