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Industry calls for Sunak to give more economic support to regional press

Rishi Sunak MPThe trade body for the regional and national press has urged Rishi Sunak to implement new measures to help the industry combat the effects of the pandemic.

The News Media Association has urged the Chancellor to introduce three specific measures to benefit local newspapers economically, either immediately or as part of the March Budget.

In a letter to Mr Sunak, pictured the NMA called for targeted support for public interest journalism such as a refundable tax relief system.

Such a move, the NMA says, would allow publishers to claim back a proportion of salaries of existing qualifying reporters deployed to cover public interest journalism and to incentivise and fund the employment of new reporters.

The organisation has also called for the existing business rates relief scheme for local publishers to be expanded and provide immediate assistance to local publishers who are most at risk from the new lockdowns.

Thirdly, the NMA has called for a tax credit for advertisers who place their advertising with specific UK-based categories of media, – such as radio, television, newspapers and magazines.

In its letter, the NMA said: “The news media industry, which has provided so much benefit to the public during the coronavirus pandemic through the provision of trusted journalism, is facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions.

“We believe that direct and targeted interventions by Government, such as the ones outlined above, are necessary to safeguard the future of independent journalism in this country.”

A Treasury spokesperson told HTFP: “We’ve taken swift action throughout the pandemic to protect lives and livelihoods, and this week’s cash injection will ensure we continue to support businesses and jobs through to the spring.

“We’ve already extended the furlough scheme until April, providing certainty for businesses as they navigate the months ahead.

“And we’ll have a Budget in early March to take stock of our wider support, and set out the next stage in our economic response.”

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