Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Wednesday, 5 December 2012

MP voices concerns about future of regional newspapers

A Conservative MP has warned about the "poor state" of regional newspapers and urged the government to help put them on a "sustainable footing" for the future.

Andrew Griffiths told MPs 13.2% of local newspapers had been lost since January 2002 as he opened a Westminster Hall debate on the subject on 5 December 2012.

Labour MP John McDonnell cited figures stating that "21% of UK local newspapers" had closed down in the last seven years.

Mr Griffiths made the case that regional newspapers lay at the heart of local communities and to see them decline would be bad for democracy.

This argument was echoed by many MPs in the debate who pointed out that elderly citizens were particularly dependent on their local papers.

Many of the country's regional newspapers have seen falling readership in recent years, with some papers moving from daily to weekly publication.

Figures from 2011 show that only three UK regional dailies grew their readership in the first six months of the year.

Turning to the Leveson report, Mr Griffiths said the regional press should not be "burdened with expensive and difficult legislation" when they had done nothing wrong.

Conservative MP Lee Scott agreed, arguing it would be "totally wrong" for them to be "punished" for the actions of the national newspapers.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said he would look at convening a meeting to bring together ministers with local newspaper companies to "explore" their futures.

But he added: "It is important I think that the future of local newspapers does rest primarily with local newspapers."

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