Worries over business rates relief cut for local newspapers

Northern Isles politicians have written to finance minister Kate Forbes regarding their concerns about the Scottish government’s plans to cut business rates relief for press outlets.

In an urgent letter, MP Alistair Carmichael MP and MSPs Beatrice Wishart and Liam McArthur highlight the vital role local press in particular has played in providing trusted information during the pandemic and the need for further support through the recovery to ensure a diverse media landscape throughout the Highlands and Islands.

Mr Carmichael said: “Local press have been some of the most trusted news sources for our communities and we must continue to support them as we recover from the pandemic.

“It is disappointing that they are being left out of the Scottish government’s plans even as the financial harm of the pandemic continues to bite.

“If ministers take seriously the future of our diverse press businesses in the isles and beyond, they should not play games with their support.

“This is not about one party or one region – we all benefit from strong press organisations.”

Ms Wishart said: “We’re fortunate to have good news reporting in Shetland, giving our communities a shared forum and keeping us informed through challenging times.

“It is no secret that lockdowns and restrictions have been tough on these businesses – until things return to normal it is right that we keep supporting them as much as we can.

“We have seen some of the greatest benefits of strong local journalism during the pandemic – if ministers agree in the importance of a strong press I would urge them to change course and extend rates relief.”


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