Fianna Fáíl Spokesperson on Communications, Jack Chambers has said that the Government must act to introduce supports for newspapers in crisis as a result of COVID-19.

Deputy Chambers made the call following the announcement of the closure of the Northside People and Southside People. The papers are the latest to be hit by a series of closures, layoffs and shutdowns which have ravaged the industry since the start of the pandemic.

Deputy Chambers said: “The situation is being allowed to reach crisis point without action by the government. The media landscape, and free newspapers, are disappearing at a time when journalism is more important than ever before.

“Fianna Fáil have been clear about the action which is required. The BAI needs to be tasked with coordinating a crisis response for print media, we need a coordinated distribution of government advertising to support those publications most at risk of going out of business and we need to introduce direct supports where needed.

“The problem is understood. Radio stations have already been provided with additional supports, An Post has done stellar work in this area too, but there is no support for some papers. Despite numerous letters to the Minister for Communications and the Minister for Business we have seen nothing for papers providing public service journalism during massive reductions in advertising revenue.

“As the press ombudsman has said, every newspaper that closes reduces diversity in the media and reduces the range of news and opinion available to the public,” concluded Deputy Chambers. 

ENDS..