State support needed for regional press, says MP

An MP will ask the Government to provide state support for the regional press in the House of Commons next week.

Ashok Kumar, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland – where both Trinity Mirror‘s Evening Gazette and Newsquest‘s Northern Echo have cut jobs and offices recently – will lead the debate.

He said today: ‘I will be asking in the debate if the Government will examine the concept of some form of state support for local newspapers that are struggling, so as to allow them to survive the downturn.

‘Similar schemes exist elsewhere in Europe, and I can see no reason why such schemes – possibly part-funded by the proceeds from the coming sale of parts of the wireless spectrum being vacated by analogue broadcasters – could not be set up here.

‘Our local press is a beacon of democracy, and we cannot allow that beacon to be extinguished.”

He added: ‘Our local press is crucial to both local democracy and to the retention of a locally well-informed public.

‘At the end of the day, if a shop sadly closes, one can usually find other similar shops nearby. But if a local newspaper closes, then the chance of rescuing or replacing it are next to non-existent.”

The debate will be in Westminster Hall at the House of Commons, on Tuesday, January 20 at 11am.

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