Licensing laws will cost local newspapers
RELEASE DATE: 30 January 2013
Government plans to reform alcohol licensing laws will cost local newspapers £7.3m in lost advertising revenue and could threaten jobs, says the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ).
Responding to a consultation document issued by the Home Office in association with the Government’s ‘Alcohol Strategy’ CIoJ President Norman Bartlett said: “Whilst the general thrust of the document is for greater restrictions on sale, licensing and effects of alcohol abuse, it is pretty strong on community awareness and involvement yet, bizarrely, it has one section where it proposes to relax the requirements where licensing authorities have to advertise changes of alcohol licences.
“Local newspapers are under severe financial pressure. To take away revenue of £7.3 m from an impoverished industry to give benefit to an affluent one seems bizarre.
Mr Bartlett added: “The document says: ‘We need to maintain the integrity of the licensing system to protect society from those irresponsible businesses that exploit loopholes to gain business at any cost…’ – it is precisely because licensing applications must be published and names given that local people find out about these things. Posting on a website is no better than posting on the front door: only people passing by may read it. How many ordinary members of the public as a matter of routine will consult a licensing authority website? Very few, in the opinion of the CIoJ.
“The CIoJ has no means of assessing the veracity of the numbers in the impact assessment. However it is couched entirely in terms of benefits to an industry acknowledged to be one with anti-social attributes. The local newspaper industry – that would suffer with the withdrawal of advertising income – is virtuous by comparison. It holds local business, government and other agencies to account and supports local democracy. “