The Daily Mail Calls On Chancellor To Support Local Papers

Rishi Sunak must intervene to support the news media industry which provides a vital service in supplying the public with trusted news and information during the coronavirus outbreak but is facing extreme challenges caused by sharp declines in ad revenue, the Daily Mail said today.  

In a comment piece, the paper called on the Chancellor to make funds available for a public health ad campaign in news media and for business rates relief available to other sectors to be extended to local news media titles.

The Daily Mail said: “Many publications – some in existence for more than a century – may not survive. That would be disastrous. It would snuff out the most effective source people have of finding out about outbreaks in their community, measures taken to tackle them and where they can seek help.

“What’s more, it would cause incalculable damage to local democracy. Politicians, police and health services would be far less likely to be held to account and corruption and malpractice more likely to flourish.

“So what can be done? The Government should extend the business rates cut. It’s bizarre the lifeboat should save betting shops, while news titles go bust. And as ministers look beyond the current crisis to deal with the social problems and ensure business recovers, they must embark on a major campaign of public information.

“Chancellor Rishi Sunak has impressed with his imaginative contagion response. By safeguarding this crucial industry, he’d win even more plaudits.”

On Saturday, The Times published a leader quoting a News Media Association survey of member publishers which found that almost half of local publishers fear they will have to cut jobs in the next four weeks unless the government intervenes.

“Enders Analysis has suggested the government pay for businesses to advertise in local papers, with the idea of helping both. Indeed the government should direct the bulk of its crisis advertising budget to both national and regional papers in order to inform the public and keep the titles alive.

“Extra funding for home deliveries, or schemes to combine food deliveries with local paper distribution would also be welcome. If the lockdown is tightened, newspapers must still be allowed to print and be distributed to doorsteps.

“There can be no excuse for continuing to ignore the problem. Many MPs, including cabinet ministers, are calling for more support for the newspaper industry. The NMA has written to Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, asking him for urgent help. He should supply it,” The Times said.