Friday 18 December 2009

Threat to newspapers in Scottish plan to let council adverts switch from press to online

Scottish ministers have announced plans to allow councils to no longer publish public notices in newspapers and instead put them online in a move that will alarm the rest of the newspaper industry in the UK.
The Scotsman reports that the proposal by the SNP government in Holyrood has been fiercely criticised as "an assault on the Scottish newspaper industry".
SNP finance secretary John Swinney said the move would allow councils to save millions of pounds at a time when they were short of money. Councils have been pushing for the move after they got together to form a "public information portal".
Swinney says the move would save councils £6 million which could be reinvested into frontline services.
In a statement, he said: "Public bodies must provide the best value for money. Councils have collectively identified a need to cut spending on public notices which they are legally required to advertise and pay for, costing around £6m a year.
"The changes we are consulting on will mean councils can use a new public information notice portal instead of advertising in local papers. The new portal will provide more cost-effective public information and a means to improve communication and dialogue with the public."
The portal will publish public information notices across Scotland on one website. Users will be able to click on a map of Scotland to see listings of public notices in any area.
Information that will no longer need to be advertised in the press includes statutory notices about construction and licensing and public notices such as changes to refuse collection.
Scotsman editor John McLellan said: "SNP politicians wring their hands about the future of the Scottish press and then they do their best to damage Scotland's entire local newspaper industry. And they call themselves democrats who believe in accountability. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious." (Source: Allmediascotland)
As I reported yesterday, The Newspaper Society believes the crucial decision by the UK Government on the outcome of its consultation on publicity for planning applications, which recommended removing the mandatory requirement for local authorities to publish statutory notices in newspapers, will be announced within a week.

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