Weekly paper hit by council 'advertising blackout' over critical coverage

A weekly newspaper in Wales claims to have been subjected to an “advertising blackout” by a local council after publishing a comment piece critical of the local authority.

The South Wales Guardian reports today that advertising from the council has “all but dried up” since September, when it ran an editorial “lambasting” Carmarthenshire County Council’s response to the Welsh Assembly’s call-in of plans for new Sainsbury’s stores in the region.

Figures obtained by the Guardian show that during the eight weeks between 27 September and 21 November the authority spent £9,551.69 in the county’s three newspapers, but that just £224.99 (or 2.3 per cent) was spent in the Guardian.

The remaining 97.7 per cent went to the Guardian’s two rivals, the South Wales Evening Post and Llanelli Star, the paper claims.

Plaid CymruAM Rhodri Glyn Thomas told the paper: “Local authorities have a duty not to undermine local newspapers and we’re calling on Carmarthenshire county council to join our campaign to secure the future of the local press in the county.

“The council should start by scrapping its own publication and direct advertisers to the independently-run publications in the county.

“Carmarthenshire has a much-respected local press and it is imperative it is able to act freely and report without fear or favour.”

MP Jonathan Edwards said: "Lord Justice Leveson categorically states that local, high-quality and trusted newspapers are good for our communities, our identity and our democracy and play an important social role. It is imperative that local authorities play an active role in ensuring the vibrancy of the press.”

The council had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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