Trinity Mirror chief Sly Bailey attacked council newspapers again today, describing them as ''propaganda masquerading as journalism."
Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention she said: "If we truly value local press we must stop council newspapers; imagine if it happened on a national level with a government newspaper."She claimed the"Mini Pravdas are damaging circulation and advertising of local papers".
Her comments follow those of Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw who has said he has “some sympathy” with the argument against council newspapers which divert advertising revenue from independent titles.
In the House of Commons this week, Bradshaw responded to questions from MPs about his department’s plans to secure the future of high quality regional news.
David Crausby, MP for Bolton, North-East, asked what could be done to ensure that Government advertising was steered towards “vital” local newspapers.
Bradshaw responded: “The first thing that I would say to my hon. Friend is that local newspapers and local newspaper groups have warmly welcomed the Government’s proposals for the new regional news consortia.
“Many local newspaper groups are involved in bidding for some of the pilots to which I have just referred. I have some sympathy with his point about the impact of local government free sheets and their advertising on local newspapers.
“He might have noticed that we announced in December, just before Christmas, that we would continue to require local authorities to advertise in paid-for newspapers.
“The Department for Communities and Local Government is undertaking a review of the publicity code for local authorities, in which we have made our opinions quite clear.”
Sources: MediaGuardian: Emily Bell and Matthew Wells on Twitter; Newspaper Society.