A Conservative MP has called on the Government to consider the use of subsidies in creating a “level playing field” to help Britain’s under pressure local press.
Louise Mensch, the MP for Corby, said during a Westminister hall debate yesterday local newspapers remained the “single most popular” print medium in the UK, read by almost 70 per cent of the adult population and had an accumulative readership of some 33 million.
Referring to newspaper restructures, closures and declining circulation, she said: “The threat to our local democracy is severe. It is often only the local press that will hold an incumbent member of parliament or a local council to account, because only the local press and only local people really care.”
She asked the Government to assess whether or not there may be a case for whether some direct or indirect subsidy from Government ought to be given to the local press.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, the MP for Wantage, said he would “happily” meet with the heads of local newspaper groups to discuss the situation.
He highlighted a new code limiting councils on producing freesheets seen as a threat to local newspapers as one of the steps the Government was taking to aid the industry.
He added: “I will happily organise a series of meetings with the managing directors of newspaper groups, be it Johnston Press or Newsquest or Northcliffe, if honourable members would find that helpful.”