Grahame Morris MP spoke in the debate this afternoon on the need for support for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport sectors.
The Press Gazette estimates that over 2,000 jobs have been lost in newsrooms across the country, with many more journalists taking pay cuts to save their job, and the Welsh Culture Committee has warned about the impending ‘avalanche of redundancies and paper closures in the regional media’ when the furlough scheme ends.
Mr. Morris asked if the Minister would agree to meet with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and himself to discuss the News Recovery Plan that has been developed by the NUJ. Unlike many recovery plans, the NUJ has identified a within sector means of funding the package through a windfall tax on Tech Giants.
Mr Morris acknowledged the limited support given by the government to newspapers, by putting money into public health advertising. However, he asked that the Minister ensure that any future advertising takes a bottom-up approach with advertising spend going to independents and hyperlocal news titles in the first instance before moving up the newspaper title hierarchy.
The Easington MP also stated that we need to ensure that any taxpayer support industry comes with duties and responsibilities. He said that he hoped the Minister would commit from the dispatch box that no public money will be made available to firms making redundancies, cutting pay, curtailing frontline journalistic roles, taking executive bonuses or blocking trade union organisation.
Finally, Mr Morris paid tribute to the PCS cafeteria and retail workers at the Tate Galleries, who took strike action in an attempt to avoid compulsory redundancies and winning significant concessions.
He said that the Culture Recovery Grant has yet to save a single job in 7 areas where PCS are in discussions. PCS members are facing further redundancies at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Historic Royal Palaces, Royal Collections Trust, National Gallery, National Museum Liverpool and the Southbank Centre.
It is vital that the Government offer support for those campaign to protect jobs in these institutions, and make it clear that companies and cultural institutions using Covid to mistreat their employees should not receive taxpayer bailouts.