Wednesday, September 21 2022

THIS week Irish newspapers’ representative organizations are launching a campaign to demand the removal of VAT from print and online newspapers in the budget.

The new EU VAT directive means the Irish government now has the power to remove VAT on print and online newspapers, which is currently 9%.

Reducing it to zero would mean we would be in line with many other European countries, whose governments support journalism with VAT rates below 9%, and some are already at zero, such as our nearest neighbor the UK .

Introducing a 0% rate in the 2023 budget would provide crucial support to journalism and news publishers, at a time when a perfect storm has a very difficult effect on the industry.

Journalism today is threatened by the rise of big tech platforms, which are disrupting journalism around the world; new digital advertising models that have put enormous pressure on traditional local and national media, and the growth of “fake news” – a modern term for misinformation.

The growth of online disinformation means that reliable and professional sources of information are more vital than ever and essential to democracy itself. You don’t have to look further than the other side of the Atlantic to see the damage the peddling of “fake news” can do to a modern democracy.

And there is also the threat of inflation and rising paper and energy prices – two key elements in the production of our national and local newspapers.

Doing nothing is not an option. The Irish government must act now.

Local newspapers are essential to their communities and provide factual sources to inform political opinions and decisions.

Professional, quality journalism – both locally and nationally – is essential for a healthy democracy and supports the wider news ecosystem for broadcasters and digital publishers.

Without newspapers and their digital content, many important stories would not be told.

We all know Irish people love news. 82% of the population reads a print or digital news title every week (Source: Kantar TGI 2022).

As journalism faces the challenges of the cost of living crisis, the growing commercial power of tech platforms, the legacy of the pandemic (which has hit advertising and broadcast) and soaring production costs (which have increased by 140% in the past 18 months), time is running out for definitive action.

At the very least, a zero VAT would allow Irish newspaper publishers to help secure their future by investing in journalism, giving greater value to readers and safeguarding jobs.

Traditional news publishers also need to invest in the digital transition and ending the payment of VAT would help support this transformation towards competitive online models.

A detailed submission was made to the Department of Finance by the two main news organizations – Newsbrands Ireland and Local Ireland – ahead of the summer recess. The aid measure for national and local newspapers would bring 18.5 million euros to our sector, at a time when it has never been more necessary – or urgent.

Today we ask you, the reader, to help protect the future of independent journalism in Ireland by supporting your local newspaper. And you can also support our campaign to remove VAT for print and online newspapers in the next budget, by mentioning the importance of a zero VAT rate, to your local DTs.

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