‘Right to Buy’ legislation should be extended to local news organisations, according to a new report by the Carnegie UK Trust published today, with local communities being given the first chance to acquire news titles owners wish to sell.
The report looked at finding a solution to the decline in the number of local newspapers, claiming that titles are disappearing at a rate of more than 30 a year.
The report suggested media ownership rules should be changed so that local papers can be transferred to communities if existing owners say they are failing.
Yesterday's report follows a joint initiative by Carnegie UK Trust and Co-operatives UK called 'Make Your Local News Work', which looked at making co-operative business models work for local news groups.
Representatives from 120 news organisations attended eight workshops around the country. According to the Carnegie UK Trust, local newspapers aren't closing because of a fundamental shift in people’s needs, but because of a challenge to the traditional business model.
“The co-operative model is attractive to news organisations as it leverages support for local news into new sources of revenue and capital based on ownership as well as consumption,” the report said.
However, the report also identified barriers in transferring ownership of local news organisations to communities as ownership transfers happen at a scale and pace that is usually beyond a community’s ability to respond.