Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today written to the Culture Secretary to voice concern about reports that local press organisations are being “short-changed” by the government in their support for public health advertising campaigns. Multiple local press outlets have contacted Mr Carmichael in recent weeks to voice concern that the government has cut their advertising rates after public health campaigns have run, making the adverts a loss-making exercise for local press. The letter follows a cross-party campaign led by Mr Carmichael calling on the government to allocate more advertising spend to local press to support them during the pandemic.
Mr Carmichael said:
“My campaign called on the government to put more of its health advertising spend into local press rather than large media outlets. It seems completely counterproductive to short-change our local press in this way, to the point where they are actually losing money by doing the right thing and supporting public health campaigns.
“The points I made to the government in April about the vital role that local press plays and the risks caused by the pandemic are as true today as they were then. It is concerning that things appear to be going backwards rather than forwards. If you care about quality independent journalism then you should support your local press.”
“I would urge any other media outlets around the country affected by these practices to contact my office so that we can better understand the scope of the problem. The government says it wants to support local press – it can start by reversing this short-sighted, short-changing policy.”