The SNS has today written to Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes and economy secretary Fiona Hyslop to ask for a series of measures to help local publishers through the coronavirus pandemic.
Following representations from members, the Society has identified four key actions it would like to see the Scottish Government take which would make a significant difference to their businesses.
1. A 100% business rates holiday for twelve months.
2. Emergency funds to allow staff to be paid as revenues drop.
3. Diverting public money the Scottish Government spends on Facebook and Google advertising to invest in trusted local media print and online platforms.
4. Facilitate access to immediate interest-free loans for working capital.
In his letters, SNS director John McLellan said: “We appreciate that news publishers are not alone in facing an extreme existential threat, but local publishers in particular are, and will hopefully remain, vital means of communicating reliable information about services and assistance
in their communities and as such we believe they should form part of the emergency response to what appears to be a rapidly deteriorating situation.
“Advertising revenues are disappearing and as people are shopping less so too is hard copy sales revenue diminishing, and if businesses are forced to close that will mean the end of online publication upon which many people increasingly rely to verify information.
“In what are obviously very uncertain, worrying and fast-changing circumstances, local publications offer something else other than just trusted information; they are symbols of certainty and continuity and will perform a key role in returning communities to whatever becomes the new normal as and when the crisis passes.”