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The NUJ’s economic stimulus plan for local journalism – can it work?

June 9th, 2009Posted by in Journalism

With Andy Burnham’s still-warm seat now occupied by former BBC journalist Ben Bradshaw, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has wasted no time in sending an open letter to the new culture minister with an ‘economic stimulus plan for local media’.

The eight-point plan:

  1. Reform of cross-media ownership rules with a strengthened public interest test;
  2. Hard and fast commitment to ring-fence licence fee funding for the BBC;
  3. A levy introduced on commercial operators who benefit from quality public service content – including local news – but do not contribute to its production;
  4. Tax breaks for local media who meet clearly defined public purposes;
  5. Tax credits for individuals who buy quality media;
  6. Direct support to help establish new genuinely local media organisations;
  7. Strategic use of central and local government advertising;
  8. Support for training opportunities that open access to journalism.

The full plan can be downloaded at this link.

Some initial thoughts (please get in touch with any of your reactions, either below or in an email to laura@journalism.co.uk):

  • How will ‘quality’ content be defined for points three and five?
  • There’s a long-running union battle against council-run newspapers, which point seven clearly addresses
  • Licence fee funding – is the BBC friend or foe to local media? Newspaper groups decried the BBC’s local video project and often criticise the ‘special way’ in which the corporation is funded; how will the union’s suggestion sit with them?

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  • http://www.eadt.co.uk/content/eadt/blogs/unspun.aspx James Goffin

    Presumably “A levy introduced on commercial operators who benefit from quality public service content – including local news – but do not contribute to its production” is aimed at people like Google, but why leave it there – and why only in one direction?
    If this is genuinely aimed at supporting local media (and not just shoring up the BBC, which tends to be the NUJ line nationally) then why shouldn’t the Corporation be charged when it “benefits” from stories it has followed up from the local press? (Or blogs for that matter.)

    And much as I enjoy the idea of claiming back my Private Eye subs against tax, I can see it being as effective in stimulating the economy as the VAT cut.

    Give them some credit for at least trying; pity most of it is nonsense.

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