SLOUGH’S MP has warned the government local journalism is “under threat” and asks when will support be given “before we lose more valued local newspapers”.

As the coronavirus gripped the UK during lockdown and continues to be in the public eye, pressures on the local newspaper industry continues to mount as print readership and advertiser revenue fell.

Some companies have had to make redundancies or impose pay reductions such as the furlough scheme in order to keep the public informed.

Raising the issue in Parliament, Tan Dhesi MP for Slough criticised the government for ignoring the calls by the News Media Association and National Union for Journalists for business rates relief as well as a proposed recovery plan to ensure local journalism’s survival.

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The Labour parliamentarian questioned ministers when will the government listen to news associations and support local journalism “before it’s too late”.

He said: “We in Slough are fortunate enough to have two brilliant local newspapers – the Slough Express and the Slough Observer – which play a vital role in our local democracy and ensuring the good people of Slough are well informed with reliable and accurate news reporting.

“But like many of their counterparts across the country, local journalism is under threat.”

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The Minister for Media and Data John Whittingdale MP responded that he has had “a number of conversations with News Media Association and other publishing organisations” and the government has extended the £1,500 business rates relief for local newspaper offices.

He added: “We will continue to look at what additional measures we can take to support newspapers.”