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14 May 2020

Minister: Journalism Has Never Been More Important

Journalism has never been more important to the public than it is now and the Government will continue to look at “all possible options” for supporting it, Minister for Media and Data John Whittingdale has said.

In written answers to questions on Government actions to support the news media industry, Mr Whittingdale said that safeguarding the UK's news media “at this time of financial instability” was “a key priority” for Government.

In addition to looking at options for supporting the industry, the Government would continue to make sure that any issues with the supply chain were addressed, Mr Whittingdale said.

In response to a question on newspaper delivery from Robert Halfon, Harlow MP, Conservative, Mr Whittingdale said: “The Government considers continued access to quality news, including via community publications, to be vitally important at the current time.

“My officials and I are working closely with publishers to ensure that we are aware of any issues with delivery and are responding to concerns as a matter of urgency, including, where appropriate, raising issues with Cabinet colleagues.

Responding to a question from Carla Lockhart, MP for Upper Bann, DUP, on subsisiding newspapers, Mr Whittingdale said the Government was in constant dialogue with publishers to ensure an effective response to the challenges posed by the pandemic.  

Mr Whittingdale said: “The Government recognises the vital role of newspapers in supporting communities and isolated individuals by ensuring the provision of reliable, high-quality information throughout the current pandemic.

“Safeguarding the UK's news media at this time of financial instability is a key priority for Government and we are in constant dialogue with publishers to ensure that our response to the challenges they are facing is as effective as it can be.

“With schools closed and the nation confined to their homes during lockdown, millions have been relying on e-publications to help home school their children, keep up to date with the latest news and to pass the time. To support this, the Chancellor has brought forward the zero rating on e-publications."

He added: “The Government will continue to consider all possible options in the interests of promoting and sustaining high-quality news journalism. Never have the activities of journalists been more popular and critical; providing quality news to all, including those self-isolating, and binding communities together, a fundamental function of our modern day democracy.”