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Local Press: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 113620, tabled on 10 November 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent discussions he has had with representatives of local and regional news outlets on matters affecting those outlets as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered on

16 November 2020

The Government is clear that local and regional newspapers play an invaluable role in the fabric of our society, and it has been an absolute priority to ensure we do all we can to support news publishers at this time of financial instability. With this in mind, we continue to focus both on alleviating the existential threat posed by the pandemic and simultaneously progressing commitments made in our response to the Cairncross Review.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have held regular roundtable discussions and bi-lateral meetings with stakeholders from across the industry to better understand their developing needs and concerns, and to inform the support measures we have put in place. To date, these include designating journalists as ‘key workers’; issuing guidance to local authorities on the importance of newspaper delivery; ensuring the use of ‘keyword blocklisting’ technology is not disproportionately limiting news publishers’ online advertising revenues for Covid-19 related stories by ad-blocking coronavirus-related terms; implementing a significant public information campaign across the local and national press to ensure that authoritative, up-to-date information about the Government’s response to Covid-19 is distributed through reliable channels; and fast-tracking the commencement of zero-rating of VAT on e-newspapers.

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