While government action to suspend the BAI levy for local radio stations was a welcome on in the media industry, support is also needed for local newspapers which are also struggling to keep going amid the current Covid-19 shutdown.
Yesterday, Celtic Media confirmed that, while it will continue to publish its five weekly titles in the face of collapsing revenues due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of its publishing staff have had their employment temporarily suspended.
I began my career in one in 1986 (@Longford_Leader ) & hardly a week goes by without speaking to a reporter or editor , so I am so sad to see so many people laid off in @theanglocelt @westmeathindo @meathchronicle @WHExaminer tonight . Local papers are SOUL of Ireland #Covid_19— Ciaran Mullooly (@ciaranmullooly) March 20, 2020
In an effort to provide much-needed support to local titles across the country, Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin has urged the Government to help struggling local newspapers through ad buys, and urged the public to support their local and national titles by buying a copy.
“I welcome the action by the government to suspend the BAI levy for local radio stations giving some immediate relief in the face of collapsing advertising revenues," said Deputy Howlin.
“However assistance and recognition is also needed for local papers during the Covid-19 slowdown. They too are a reliable and trusted source of information for many.
“The Government should look at supports such as extensive advertising in local papers and radio to get the key messages out. This would be an important way to support advertising revenue sustaining people in jobs while also providing the public with essential news. Similar supports may also be needed for independent national broadcasters and newspapers if this is an extended crisis.
“I would also call on the public to support their local and national newspapers by buying a copy when they can. We all need to be reading reliable information sources.
“There are also great community efforts underway to support elderly people and those at risk in self isolation with deliveries to their homes. Adding a copy of your local paper to those supplies is another way to boost their sales.
“The economic consequences of the coronavirus will impact numerous sectors in our society and when problems are identified we must move quickly to provide support and assistance.”