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25 June 2020

NMA Urges Chancellor To Extend Business Rates Relief to News Media

A 100 per cent business rates holiday would provide essential ongoing support to news media publishers as the furlough scheme is withdrawn, enabling them to retain as many journalists as possible until the economy picks up again, the News Media Association has said.

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, NMA chairman Henry Faure Walker welcomed the measures implemented by Government to date but said there was “no immediate prospect” of the commercial revenues which fund news journalism swiftly returning to previous levels.

The news media sector is facing mass redundancies when the furlough scheme comes to an end and the majority of regional and local publishers expect to have to close titles within months if further support is not forthcoming, the NMA warned.

Publishers have identified a 100 per cent business rates holiday as one of the top priorities needed to help them navigate their way out of the crisis, alongside extending the Government ad campaign beyond the initial three months, and dealing with the underlying issue of compelling the tech giants to pay publishers for use of their content.

In the letter to the Chancellor this week, Mr Faure Walker said: “We have written to you previously to highlight the impact of the crisis on our sector and on local newspapers in particular.

“As we feared, it has proved to be as swift and severe for our members as it has been for the retail and hospitality sector, with the lockdown having the same effect of pulling down the commercial shutters but without the ability for news media publishers to save costs by temporarily closing down their businesses and sending all their staff home.

“Business rates relief would provide essential ongoing support to news media publishers as the furlough scheme is withdrawn, enabling them to retain as many journalists and other staff as possible until the economy picks up again.”

A number of publishers, editors and their MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, have written to the Chancellor to call for an extension to measures such as the business rates holiday to the news media sector.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said that the Government is exploring business rates relief for the sector.