Former Culture minister attacks Facebook and Google for ‘destroying’ local journalism

Written by Nicholas Mairs on 17 October 2017 in News

John Whittingdale, who served in the role under David Cameron’s government, will say Facebook and Google are “bad for democracy”

Google: Picture credit - PA

Facebook and Google are “bad for democracy” and threaten the future of local media by “taking all their content and reproducing it for free”, a former Culture Secretary is set to say.

John Whittingdale, who served in the role under David Cameron’s government, will call on tech giants to subsidise smaller sites and newspapers to help them retain traditional practises like reporting from courts and council meetings.

The proposals are similar to those brought in under his time in Cabinet, where the Government forced the BBC to pay for 150 local journalists.

The broadcaster vowed to invest £8m per year as part of an arrangement to allow for greater coverage of town halls, courts and regional assemblies, agreed with the News Media Association.

Whittingdale will make his plea to big firms as part of a lecture on “The Future of the Press” organised by the House of Commons later today.

The Sun reports that the former minister will hit out at the “under-reporting of courts and council chambers” as the number of regional media outlets continues to plummet.

Meanwhile he will accuse major websites of killing local papers by “taking all their content and reproducing it for free” online.

He will also insist global firms “need to give something back” and that the speedy decline of regional press - exacerbated by them - could lead to a threat to democracy.

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