News

NMA and SNS calls for more government protection for journalists during COVID-19 crisis

Posted on: March 23, 2020 by Ellen Bramley

The News Media Association (NMA) has now called for immediate financial and operational support for all UK news publishers in light of the coronavirus crisis.

The newspaper industry trade body has also appealed for further support for journalists operating as a “fourth emergency service.”

The calls come after the government confirmed print journalists and ancillary staff are included as recognised key-workers during the COVID-19 virus crisis.

The government has also stressed the importance for recognised key-worker journalists to be able to move freely in the event of further restrictions being introduced.

The NMA has now outlined plans for a series of financial and operational interventions including a commitment to divert government media spend to newspapers; extending the 100 per cent business rates holiday offered to retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to news providers and opening up additional £25,000 grants to smaller local news providers.

It is also seeking a guarantee that news media providers will be treated as an “essential service” in the event of further movement restrictions and wants to see major supermarkets to continue to carry newspapers at current levels as an essential item.

In a statement, the NMA said: “There is an urgent need for immediate financial and operational support for all UK news publishers, national, regional and local.

“Maintaining the flow of essential news while avoiding extensive job losses and title closures would be beneficial to the public purse and society in the long-term.”

The NMA’s calls come after the Scottish Newspaper Society has written to the Scottish government last week calling for a 100 per cent business rates holiday for 12 months.

SNS director John McLellan wrote: “We appreciate that news publishers are not alone in facing an extreme existential threat, but local publishers in particular are, and will hopefully remain, vital means of communicating reliable information about services and assistance in their communities and as such we believe they should form part of the emergency response to what appears to be a rapidly deteriorating situation.

“Advertising revenues are disappearing and as people are shopping less so too is hard copy sales revenue diminishing, and if businesses are forced to close that will mean the end of online publication upon which many people increasingly rely to verify information.”

Link to NMA statement here: http://www.newsmediauk.org/Latest/nma-government-support-for-fourth-emergency-service-news-media-sector-during-the-coronavirus-crisis

Link to SNS statement here: https://www.scotns.org.uk/2020/03/18/sns-calls-for-scottish-government-to-take-emergency-action-to-save-local-news-publications/