The Government must remove VAT on newspapers to ensure they remain viable into the future, according to a Fianna Fáil TD.
On Breakfast Briefing this morning Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith said we need to do everything we can to ensure we don’t lose our provincial newspapers.
He noted that the two reginal papers in his area, the Anglo Celt and the Northern Standard, have been in circulation for 176 years and 183 years respectively.
It means both papers covered The Great Hunger, the War of Independence, two World Wars and everything in between and after.
“We have to ensure that those newspapers remain in circulation,” said Deputy Smith.
“All of us who have had the privilege of living in rural communities know the value that people in every single parish place on the notes from their own community in each week’s paper and how they are such valuable source of information when local histories are being written.
“They play a pivotal role in the democratic life of our country and the sporting and economic life of our country on a daily basis.”
Deputy Smith noted that newspapers have seen revenues decline for well over a decade as advertising revenue falls and circulation reduces.
He said several European countries have taken steps to support the newspaper industry – and Ireland should end VAT to ensure our own papers remain viable.
“In recent years, some of our fellow members states in the EU - say Belgium, Austria and France - and outside the EU - Norway and Britain - have supported independent journalism in different ways,” he said.
“They also have low if not zero VAT rates as well. That is enabled by recent European Union legislation is relation to taxation – they can reduce the Vat rate on print and digital newspapers to zero.”
He said newspaper groups like Local Ireland and Newsbrands Ireland have outlined very clearly the difficulties they are facing.
He said the most effective course of action would be to end VAT on print and digital formats.
He urged Government to consider making the change in next week’s budget.