Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Communications, Jack Chambers has called on the Minister for Communications to extend an ongoing review of the impact of COVID-19 on local radio to be expanded to cover local newspapers. The Minister for Communications is currently undertaking a review of the radio sector with a view to examining whether further supports are required considering falling revenues as a result of COVID-19.
Deputy Chambers said: “It is vital that the government moves to put in place dedicated supports to keep local newspapers in print. Many have seen a drastic decline in advertising revenues as a result of the closure of many local businesses on top of longer-term structural changes. “If required to maintain these publications, the Minister for Communications should begin preparations to bring print media under the remit of the BAI to coordinate targeted financial supports. These supports should be conditional on providing public health information to communities aimed at combatting the spread of COVID-19 and assisting community efforts to provide support to vulnerable individuals.
“At this difficult time, it is vital that all lines of quality information remain open and available to the public. Professionally produced journalism is an essential condition for this. If it disappears, data driven news feeds governed by algorithms will be our guide during this emergency. “We are already seeing the potential impact of this. Social media and some less reputable digital publications have been filled with consistent and sometimes dangerous rumours. “Local newspapers and broadcasters are well placed to provide information relevant to people in their own communities. While large broadcasters and national newspapers are doing important work, they will not be able to provide location specific information that these organisations can,” concluded Deputy Chambers.