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The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has recommended that the Office of Fair Trading investigate the recent trend of councils producing their own local newspapers and has accused some authorities of using public cash to finance publications that are little more than political propaganda.
Council-run titles masquerading as independent papers is a growing problem, so much so that the Trinity Mirror-owned Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle launched a ‘proper papers not propaganda’ campaign at the end of last month to put a stop to rival freesheet H&F News, run by the local authority, being produced without clearly stating that it isn’t an independent title.
Alongside regional publishers making hefty cuts on costs, council-run newspapers such as these have done a good job in contributing to the downward sales spiral that all but a few local papers are on.
It’s good news that MPs are sitting up and paying attention to this issue, and trying to get something done about it. But independent retailers, whose local paper sales have been eroding for some time, may believe it’s too late to save regional titles.
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