Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Friday) backed calls for the Scottish Government to look at more ways to support local media during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Mr McArthur has added his support to calls from Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie, for the Scottish Government to launch a new Coronavirus public information campaign and extend the 100% business rates to local media.
Mr McArthur wrote last month to the Finance Secretary, NHS Orkney and Orkney Islands Council (OIC) to highlight the importance of local media outlets in communicating vital information to communities and encouraging them to use these methods of communication. Both NHS Orkney and OIC have confirmed in their responses to Mr McArthur that they intend to fully support Orkney’s media outlets by using them as a channel to share information of value to the public.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“During the current crisis, keeping the public up to date and informed is vitally important. As the situation develops, every effort must be made to ensure that information is communicated to the public in a clear and timely manner.
“While social media has a part to play, for many people this is not where they access their information. Local media outlets, such as newspapers and radio, provide an invaluable public information service all year round. In these unprecedented times, that role becomes even more critical.
“I was pleased to receive assurances recently from both NHS Orkney and Orkney Islands Council that all methods of communication will be used when providing the public with updates. This has the added benefit of maintaining support to The Orcadian, for example, which faces many of the same uncertainties as other local businesses at present.
“I welcome many of the business support measures announced by Ministers in recent weeks but our local media is at risk of being overlooked. We will emerge from the current crisis, but need to take steps to ensure local media outlets are able to do so as well”.