Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Scottish Conservative debate in Holyrood on newspaper rates relief, Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie Halcro Johnston has called on SNP ministers to reverse their decision to scrap business rates relief for the sector or risk the survival of some local titles.
Mr Halcro Johnston said: “Our local newspapers have played an indispensable role throughout the pandemic.
“They have provided relevant and reliable locally-focused updates and information for communities across the Highlands and Islands, operating themselves in tough conditions where advertising revenue has often been slashed.
“Regional news brands have reported a 35 per cent decline in their advertising revenue for 2020, a trend which will undoubtedly be continuing into 2021. As someone who worked in media for many years, I know all too well the impact that will have.
“Given these difficult circumstances, it seems extraordinary that the SNP’s Finance Secretary Kate Forbes is proposing to scrap business rates relief for the industry as soon as the end of next month.
“While I don’t hold out much hope given the often cloth-eared response of the Scottish Government on other issues of business support, I do hope SNP ministers will listen carefully to what is said during the debate, reverse their decision and support this vital local sector.
“If the SNP can increase the budget that covers their plans to “build the case for independence” by nearly £4 million, then they can certainly find the £1m which would help our local newspapers survive the pandemic”.