MPs Deliver Bad News for Local Press

More bad news for the Scottish regional press today: a committee of MPs today deemed that it would be “inappropriate” for the government to subsidise local newspapers.

Says the website, Hold the Front Page, a new report penned by the Culture, Media and Sports Committee at Westminster maintains that “in order to maintain the local media’s independence, it should not receive tax payers’ cash.”

However, there was some semblance of a 'silver lining' contained in the new document. Noting the competition brought by online press aggregation sites such as Google News, Hold the Front Page says the committee “did not think it was acceptable that the local newspaper industry was prevented from taking collective action on this by competition laws”.

The Times Online’s media section also runs the story. John Wittingdale, the committee’s chair, is quoted saying the local media is facing “unprecedented challenges”. Wittingdale continues his grim appraisal saying that these challenges have “led to the closure of a large number of newspapers, many commercial radio stations becoming loss-making and the possible end of regional news on commercial television”.

The committee’s findings could sound the death knell for local authority newspapers, though. Writes The Time’s Alexi Mostrous, the report “came down hard against local authority freesheets”. Indeed, the document itself states that council publications act “as a vehicle for political propaganda”.