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Local Media Summits

The Government’s Local Media Summit, hosted by Andy Burnham at the House of Commons on Tuesday 28 April, and the Opposition’s Save Our Local Papers Event, hosted by Jeremy Hunt at St Bride’s Hall on 30 April, were agreed on the need for urgent action to protect independent, verifiable local news.

Issues raised at both events included media ownership regulation, local council publications, cross-media provision of regional news and other measures to help fund local journalism, with a growing consensus emerging on the short and longer-term solutions needed.

Speaking to an audience at Tuesday’s event including MPs, media owners, union representatives, the Local Government Association and the BBC, Ed Richards of Ofcom outlined proposals for independently-funded consortia to take over the provision of ITV regional news, Stephen Carter spoke of the importance of local news to his Digital Britain review, and Alan Rusbridger described a new form of journalism based on collaboration between reporters and citizens.

NS director David Newell said local publishers shared a belief in the vital importance of local journalism and summarised areas in which the government could help both in the short term and by facilitating more ambitious longer-term solutions: changing the local merger regime to reflect today’s media markets; strengthening the guidelines and codes to restrict local authority competition for readers and advertisers; considering the role of the government as the UK’s biggest advertiser; examining the part played by news aggregators like Google and publicly funded bodies like the BBC, both of which exploit local news content; and opening up opportunities for multimedia regional news provision.

Speakers at the Conservative Party event included Mark Dodson of GMG Regionals, Roger Parry of the LMA, David Holdsworth of the BBC, and Stephen Greenhalgh of Hammersmith & Fulham Council which publishes H&F News.