Regional newspaper bosses to discuss issues with MPs

The chief executives of four regional newspaper publishers have been invited to give evidence in parliament next week on the state of the local media.

Carolyn McCall from Guardian Media Group, Sly Bailey from Trinity Mirror, new Johnston Press chief executive John Fry and Christopher Thomson from DC Thomson will answer questions from the culture, media and sport select committee next Tuesday.

Claire Enders, the founder of media research firm Enders Analysis, will also appear before the committee to discuss the financial future for the regional media industry.

This is the first in a series of a meetings that will be held by the committee, chaired by Conservative MP John Whittingdale.

The committee launched a wide-ranging investigation in March into the future of local and regional journalism, in response to the cutbacks and job losses that have engulfed the media industry in recent months.

Since last summer, more than 1,000 journalists’ jobs are believed to have been cut from regional newspapers. Dozens of newspapers have closed and many towns have lost their newspaper offices.

The group is looking at the impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism, how to fund quality journalism and the opportunities for ultra-local news services.

It is also seeking views on the effect search engines, online content aggregators and council-owned newspapers are having on the local media, and what the BBC’s partnership proposals could mean for its rivals.

Many of the issues that will be raised at the meeting are likely to be tackled by communications minister Stephen Carter’s Digital Britain report, which could also be published on Tuesday – clashing with the select committee hearing.

Official confirmation on when the report will be released is expected tomorrow.

New culture secretary Ben Bradshaw, who replaced Andy Burnham in last week’s cabinet reshuffle, answered ministerial questions in the Commons in his first day in the new job on Monday.

The former BBC journalist told MPs: “Members in all parts of the house recognise and value the role played by regional and local newspapers not only in informing the public in their local areas, but in holding us and locally elected officials to account.”

He added: “It would be very sad to see the demise of local and regional newspapers.”

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