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Local newspapers call for ‘level playing field’ as radio stations get State support


A business group representing paid-for local weekly newspapers has asked the Government to ensure a “level playing field” with State financial supports for media in the pandemic.

Local radio stations recently received a further €2.58 million in funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Sound and Vision Scheme, bringing the total to more than €5 million since the start of the pandemic, while local newspapers have received no such support.

Local Ireland, which represents 42 local publications, said it had no objection to radio stations receiving help but it was “disappointed” that newspapers did not get equal treatment

“It is clearly unfair that media businesses operating in the same market can receive support while news publishers cannot,” said Bob Hughes, Local Ireland’s executive director. “Our coverage of the pandemic is as vital to our readers as local radio stations’ coverage is to their listeners.”

He highlighted that advertising in local papers fell 22 per cent as a result of the pandemic and “tough decisions” have had to be made.

“Local news publishers have faced the challenges presented by the last recession and the huge migration of advertising to the major tech platforms like Google and Facebook, but the crisis created by Covid-19 requires an exceptional response from Government,” said Mr Hughes.

Mr Hughes called on the State to match the supports paid to radio with funding for local papers.



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