Controversial council newspaper to close next year
Hammersmith & Fulham’s fortnightly ‘newspaper’ will close next year after the council unexpectedly withdrew the tender for a commercial partner to run H&F News which it had announced a month ago, the Newspaper Society said today.
The council now says it “will no longer be producing a newspaper from the spring/summer of 2011 and therefore wishes to place this advertising in other newspaper.”
H&F News was often given as an example of a council publication that was produced in a newspaper-style, undermining the local press by competing for traditional advertising and readers.
According to the NS, Hammersmith & Fulham Council aims to transfer the existing private commercial advertising currently carried by H&F News, projected at £375,000 in 2010/11. It has two contractual aims: to secure the most economical rate possible for future council advertising; and to secure free allocated space in a way that is clearly signposted “to enable us to engage and involve our residents in community-led issues.”
The NS says the council plans to enter into a seven-year contract with a company for advertising services. It will clarify its intentions around its contractual aims and is holding a Meet the Buyer event at Hammersmith Town Hall in two weeks time.
The Government’s consultation on changes to the Local Authority Publicity Code, aimed at cracking down on council newspapers, closes next week on 10 November.
Last week PR Week reported that the Department for Communities and Local Government was set to“stand up to Hammersmith & Fulham Council if it went ahead with plans to get around the proposed ban on frequently produced council magazines.” According to the article: “Hammersmith & Fulham revealed plans to get around the new limitations by transferring the fortnightly publication of H&F News to an independent news provider. But paragraph 28 of the proposed code states that the ruling would also cover commissioning. A DCLG source said it would be unlawful for councils to disregard the new code once it came into force.” A spokesperson for Hammersmith & Fulham Local Authority confirmed that the tender had been withdrawn.
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