Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Wednesday) repeated calls for the Scottish Government to reverse their plans to cut business rates relief for local newspapers.
Mr McArthur made the calls following a debate in parliament on the role of local newspapers during the pandemic, where opposition MSPs from across the chamber highlighted the threat to the future of local news publishers if support is withdrawn.
Orkney’s MSP has already written to the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, alongside his Northern Isles colleagues, Beatrice Wishart and Alistair Carmichael, to urge the government to reconsider their decision to withdraw emergency rates relief for the industry and instead look at how support could be extended.
After the debate, Mr McArthur commented:
“The Scottish Government’s decision to leave local newspapers high and dry almost a year into the pandemic will leave many outlets across rural and island communities in a perilous position.
“The industry has struggled through the last year due to local news publishers suffering a substantial loss in advertising revenue across the board and, without continued support, there is a real risk that many of them simply won’t survive.
“That’s a worrying prospect for all communities, particularly those in the islands, where local newspapers play an essential role as a provider of trusted, timely and accurate information. Withdrawing rates relief for them when they have delivered this support for our communities during the pandemic is therefore unfair and unjustified.
“Today’s debate certainly laid bare to Ministers the damage that this approach will cause to the local newspaper industry and pressure is evidently building on them to instead re-think how financial support could instead be extended.”