SOUTH west parliamentarians David Mundell and Oliver Mundell have called for business rates relief for the newspaper industry to be extended into in the difficult financial year ahead.
The Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale MP and the Dumfriesshire constituency MSP warn that local newspapers based in the communities they served were amongst publishing businesses hit by an SNP Scottish Government decision to end the current support.
They this week backed a Scottish Conservatives' appeal to SNP Ministers to reverse their decision to stop temporary rates relief on newspaper premises from the end of March.
David Mundell said: "In rural areas like my constituency local newspapers have had an important role -- as have other local media platforms -- in conveying vital information and analysis about the pandemic.
"They are also employers and trainers of professional journalists and other staff in an industry that has faced enormous challenges in recent years.
"Rates relief was invaluable in helping newspapers through this challenging financial year when advertising and other revenues slumped and it would have been equally needed in the months ahead."
The Scottish Conservatives predict the move could leave Scotland providing amongst the least newspaper publishing industry crisis support in Europe.
Oliver Mundell said: "Newspapers have a special place in the communities they serve and keeping this vital rates support would have helped them maintain a local base through these difficult times until the economy makes a meaningful recovery."
He added that keeping a vibrant diverse local media was important for accountability and democracy.