To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent steps her Department has taken to help support the (a) publication and (b) distribution of print editions of local and regional newspapers.
24 October 2022
The Government is committed to supporting local newspapers as vital pillars of our communities. We are in regular contact with local news publishers to understand the financial pressures they face, and we are mindful of particular concerns about rising printing costs, brought about primarily by higher energy prices, as well as by the increasing cost of raw materials including newsprint.
Last month, the government introduced the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which provides a price reduction to ensure that all businesses and other non-domestic customers, including newspaper printing sites, are protected from excessively high energy bills over the winter period. We are engaging with the sector to monitor the impact of this support, mindful of the review of the Scheme which will consider how best to offer further support to customers who are the most vulnerable to energy price increases.
We are also taking other action to support the sector, including in the digital sphere, where many newspaper publishers face significant challenges in transitioning to sustainable digital business models. Our plans for a pro-competition regime for digital markets will, among many other things, help to rebalance the relationship between news publishers and online platforms. We have also provided tax reliefs and innovation funding to the sector. And the BBC Charter Mid Term Review will evaluate how the BBC and Ofcom assess the market impact and public value of the BBC in an evolving marketplace and how that relates to the wider UK media ecology, including with regard to the local news sector. We will continue to consider all possible options in the interest of promoting and sustaining the sector.