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Newspaper Press: Government Assistance

Volume 487: debated on Monday 9 February 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform whether the Government plans to provide support to local and regional papers which are in financial difficulties. (253111)

I refer my hon. Friend to his Westminster Hall debate on the local press, which I responded to, 20 January 2009, Official Report, column 185WH.

This is a complex issue, given the requirement that freedom of editorial control must not be threatened by state intervention. I want to reassure him that the situation of local and regional papers is being considered within the Digital Britain initiative, which Lord Carter of Barnes is taking forward. My hon. Friend will also be aware of the announcements that were made on 19 January about additional support for the banks to ensure that they maintain lending, and of the support that was announced on 14 January, through the enterprise finance guarantee and the working capital scheme. Those schemes are available respectively to companies with an annual turnover of up to £25 million and up to £500 million. They are applicable right across industrial sectors and therefore could include local news organisations.