Supporting Local News

Newspapers lobby politicians for zero rate of VAT to partly offset spiralling costs

The country’s local newspapers joined forces with their national counterparts last week to lobby the nation’s politicians for a break on VAT – at a time when the industry is facing the biggest production price hikes in history.

Because on top of the rapidly rising fuel costs, the industry has also seen the cost of paper rocket by over 140% in the last 18 months.

Last week, Local Ireland, the umbrella group for the country’s regional newspapers – including the Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune – joined with NewsBrands, which represents the national newspaper sector, to make a presentation to more than 50 TD’s and Senators in Leinster House.

The event was also attended by editors of local newspapers from across the country – including Connacht Tribune Group Editor Dave O’Connell – along with a number of national newspaper editors as well.

And the request from both representative organisations was a straightforward one – reduce VAT on print and digital newspapers to zero in the forthcoming budget.

That – Local Ireland President and Connacht Tribune Operations Manager Declan McGuire said – would at least offset a slice of the spiralling cost of production and support the transition to a digital model for local newspapers.

It would cost the state €18.5 million a year to implement fully across the whole sector.


Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath after a meeting with senior executives of both Local Ireland and NewsBrands last Thursday (from left) Local Ireland President, Declan McGuire of the Connacht Tribune; Anne Marie Lenihan, CEO of NewsBrands Ireland; Minister McGrath; Dan Lenihan, General Manager, Irish Times Regionals; and NewsBrands chairman Colm O’Reilly, CEO, Business Post.


Local Ireland Executive Director Bob Hughes told the politicians that many other countries – such as the UK, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Austria and France – actively support independent journalism through zero or reduced tax along with other supports.

And now, because of a recent change to the EU VAT Directive, the Irish Government can support independent journalism by doing the same.

Galway public representatives to attend in a show of support included Galway East TDs Ciaran Cannon and Sean Canney; Galway West TD Mairead Farrell, and Galway Senators Sean Kyne and Aisling Dolan.

Former West of Ireland MEP and current Sligo/Leitrim TD Marian Harkin was one of the first to back the campaign for a 0% VAT rate on newspapers in budget 2023.

“We all know that newspapers, particularly local newspapers have been struggling for quite a number of years and many titles have gone out of business,” she said.

“Newspapers staffed by professional journalists play a vital role in making sure that, as a society, we are informed by reliable, fact-checked news and information. This is crucial for a healthy society and a healthy democracy.

“If we want to avoid what is happening in other countries, where democracy is being endangered and society is being riven apart by rumour, misinformation and conspiracy theories, a simple measure like dropping VAT on newspapers is a low-cost first step,” she added.


For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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