Speaking today at a Department of Culture, Media and Sport local media summit in Westminster, the subject of local government publications proved to be one of the most controversial topics. MPs said councils should not be using taxes to produce their own publications.
The LGA today presented research that concluded local council publications are not a threat to regional media because the majority are distributed on an infrequent basis. It also found reported that nearly 60% of council publications allot less than 10% of their pagination to advertising.
The LGA research found that 94.5% of local councils produce a monthly magazine or newsletter, although nearly 40% (39.4%) of councils taking part in its survey said their publications brought in no ad revenue.
Delegates at the meeting expressed fears that if local council publications were successful in their current locations they will spread across the country.
There was a broad consensus among attendees at the conference that the Government, MPs, local newspaper publishers and local broadcasters need to act quickly to address the local media sector's difficulties.
Culture secretary Andy Burnham said "there is a pressing need for action if we are to maintain quality in local news in the future."
Stephen Pearse, campaigns and communications official at the NUJ, said the NUJ hopes the government has got the message that the focus of any action must be on supporting local journalism.
This article was first published on mediaweek.co.uk