Stirling MP Alyn Smith wrote to the Chancellor earlier this month to request ‘vital’ further support for UK-based media outlets.
The SNP politician wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to request a time-limited tax relief on advertising spend for UK media while excluding foreign news agencies. He predicts that the exclusion will bring down the initial cost for the government by 60%.
The MP hopes that the tax-relief will allow companies to boost their marketing capabilities, helping to protect professional roles in UK media with further investment for jobs, while boosting consumer confidence in advertising with print, radio and TV media. Such an initiative would likely assist local news outlets which were already struggling pre-lockdown.
Ad-revenue streams for the UK press have been significantly impacted this year, with a forecasted reduction of at least 20%. PWC predicted that UK print journalism will face a £276,775,170 decrease in ad-revenue compared to 2019.
MP Alyn Smith said:
“As a Party that upholds the principles of democracy as a primary value, we are very interested in ensuring that media at all levels is protected and supported. It’s vital that we do everything we can. During the pandemic period, Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford and I have redirected our office resources to advertising with the local newspaper, for example, giving readers all the information they need on getting in touch with us and supporting an important local title.”
“A key pillar of our democracy is a free press, but we rightly have a press that is regulated to help ensure fairness in a way that Facebook posts are not. Local news is arguably the most immediate concern for people. Continuing to receive that through a reputable, properly regulated media outlet is crucial because the alternative is open to all sorts of abuse.”
He went on to say: “In addition to this, many thousands of jobs across Scotland are in local media outlets. In Stirling, we have the Stirling Observer and Central FM, as well as the budding enthusiasm of Stirling Uni’s Brig Newspaper volunteers.”
Joyce McMillan, chair of the NUJ’s Edinburgh freelance branch, warned MSP’s of another round of mass-redundancies for Scottish Journalists during a meeting with the Scottish Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee, stating that:
“There is every sign that most of the big players in commercial journalism are going to be using this opportunity to make yet more redundancies which is a really frightening prospect in terms of the quality and range of Scottish journalism.”