Thursday, 3 December 2009

NS asks Audit Commission: 'When will your study of value of council newspapers start?'

The Newspaper Society has written to the Audit Commission to ask when its research study looking at the public value of local authorities’ communications spend, including the publication of council newspapers, will begin.
“You may be aware that a number of local authorities, such as Thurrock and Cornwall, have recently abandoned plans for council newspapers or ceased publication because the cost of producing them could not be justified,” wrote NS communications director Lynne Anderson in a letter to the Commission’s chief executive Steve Bundred.
“But others, such as Tower Hamlets, are continuing to publish their newspapers despite the excessive – and escalating – cost to the taxpayer.”
The letter highlights research conducted by LGCommunications which shows the optimum frequency for council newspapers is no more than quarterly, and comments made by Lord Mandelson on Monday in which he acknowledged industry concerns about council newspapers, and public sector advertising.
In his Digital Britain report, Lord Carter invited the Commission to examine the issue of council newspapers, in light of concerns about their impact upon the public interest, and upon independent local media.
But the Commission said it would not look at the impact of council newspapers upon independent local media, and instead it would focusing solely upon the public value of council communications spend.
Newspaper Society via email.

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