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Media: Salaries

Volume 712: debated on Monday 29 June 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider introducing legislation to provide for the disclosure of newspaper owners', managers' and journalists' salaries and emoluments. [HL4376]

Companies are already obliged to lodge their annual financial accounts with Companies House and we have no intention to add unnecessarily to the existing legislative burden. The noble Lord will be aware that all new legislation must be preceded by an impact test so if he has any evidence that suggests that the benefits of further legislation would indeed outweigh the disadvantages, then we would be pleased to consider it.

Local newspapers are currently facing a particularly difficult time as they make the structural changes that are necessary if they are to survive in a rapidly changing sector. The present economic climate, coupled with changes to the way that people choose to access news and other information, have placed the print media sector under unprecedented strain. Structural changes will inevitably involve a review of current working patterns, which, among other things, will often lead to a reduction in the overall numbers employed. Such circumstances require proprietors to make some difficult commercial decisions and it would not be appropriate for government to intervene directly in this process. Nevertheless, we keenly understand the hardship caused by job losses and we recognise the need to work with the industry to alleviate this distress.