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Local Newspapers — [Mrs. Janet Dean in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:49 pm on 13th January 2010.

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Photo of Siôn Simon Siôn Simon Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport 3:49 pm, 13th January 2010

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. One hopes that over time there will continue to be a blend between locally and nationally owned local newspapers. As Mr. Whittingdale told us, Claire Enders says that the market will shrink by half. Any papers that exist in that market, whatever their ownership structure, can be considered a democratic good in the local community. For the moment, we will have to settle for that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush was right to raise the question of free papers potentially having their context changed as commercially owned papers go free. It will change the landscape. Mr. Pelling referred to a local authority newspaper that was costing some £700,000 a year. Given such sums, I shall be astonished if Trinity Mirror or any other commercial operator in this hard-pressed sector will invest for long at those prices.