Protecting the independent press from unfair competition
The CIoJ warmly endorsed the Government’s commitment to give greater force to the Publicity Code by putting compliance on a statutory basis, which will make it harder for English local authorities to set up in-house newspapers and diverting public advertising revenue away from local independent newspapers.
CIoJ General Secretary Dominic Cooper said: “Many local authority publications are falsely given sheep’s clothing as information carriers. The reality is that ruling parties have used taxpayers money to punch local and regional newspapers into submission in an attempt to stop their council from being put under the microscope.
“We are optimistic that this will reverse the negative trends that have left local people without the democratic right to have decisions made by local authorities challenged in an independent way.”
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is driving forward this fight against Town Hall Pravdas and his Department’s guidance specifically says: “A healthy free press is important in providing information to the public to hold their local authority to account.”
The Department for Communities and Local Government aims to deal with the issues raised by the CIoJ in this direct way rather than through competition law because the issue is more complex than that of a simple financial consideration.