Osborne promises Business Rate cuts for local newspapers but …

“…. Just five companies control some 70% of regional daily newspaper circulation.

Out of 406 Local Government Areas, 100 (25%) have no daily local newspaper at all while in 143 LGAs (35% of the total) a single title has a 100% monopoly.”

http://www.mediareform.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/ElephantintheroomFinalfinal.pdf

Our View from … titles are truly independent but Archant Press (Herald titles) which gets a whopping 80% of EDDC’s £400,000 p a advertising budget has been under investigation by HRMC for £6m in unpaid tax:

The company’s chairman, Simon Bax, revealed the inquiry into potential tax avoidance by Archant in a letter to shareholders. It centres on a “legal reorganisation” carried out by the Norwich-based group in 2011 when some 40 trading companies were reduced to three.

Bax wrote: “In the event that HMRC were to prove that the company had a tax avoidance motive in putting this structure in place… there could be adverse cash outflow of up to £6m. …

… Archant has been locked into a dispute with HMRC since December 2012 over unpaid taxes, which led the company to suspend its dividend payments.

But the tax headache was only one of the “critical matters” in the 2014 company accounts mentioned by Bax in his letter dated 18 March.

He also referred to “a large adverse tax movement of £24m in the company’s pension scheme deficit” due to “volatility” in the gilts market.

It means that Archant’s net assets have been reduced to levels that could lead, according to Bax’s letter, to a revision of the company’s credit rating.

Furthermore, it could lead to the company being required to pay additional pension protection fund (PPF) fees. It is already slated to pay a £700,000 increase in the levy and Bax revealed that the company has instituted a review of its pension strategy. … ”.
http://gu.com/p/47v3v

Oh, and those same newspapers have asked the government to get the BBC to pay £14 m for 364 extra regional journalists because they say the BBC has an unfair advantage in local newx and should be made to pay for the “democratic deficit” they say that engenders.

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/local-newspaper-publishers-want-%C2%A314m-bbc-help-plug-gap-council-and-court-reporting

The person charged with this decision is John Whittingdale:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/john-whittingdale-faces-fresh-questions-7826908

Not the First Time Whittingdale Has Enjoyed the “Perks of the Job” a Little Too Much!

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/culture-secretary-john-whittingdale-accused-of-political-interference-in-national-portrait-gallery-a6998946.html

Doesn’t look quite like the “preserve the freedom of the press” policy it started off as, does it?

Buying off criticism and oiling wheels, perhaps?

Thank your lucky stars for rebellious bloggers who wear their political hearts on their sleeves and answer only to their consciences …