Luton North MP says loss of local media is ‘damaging accountability’

Sarah Owen, Luton North MPSarah Owen, Luton North MP
Sarah Owen, Luton North MP
She spoke out in support of journalists

Luton North MP Sarah Owen has spoken out about the loss of local news in a House of Commons committee and promised to fight as the sector faces redundancies.

The MP argued that the loss of news, radio and television stations is damaging accountability and hurting news consumers. Speaking on the Media Bill Committee, Owen highlighted the importance of “proper, accountable local news that is accessible to everybody”.

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Owen said: “It is important that the government presses Ofcom to implement a consultation with viewers, readers and listeners affected by these local changes, especially given that local newspapers are closing their doors across the country.

“Local journalism is a crucial community good – it holds public bodies and representatives to account, advocates for residents and amplifies local concerns to a wider audience. The loss of local papers and redundancies for hardworking and talented journalists hurts those who rely on local media and the communities they cover”.

This news comes as 450 jobs were cut at news conglomerate Reach PLC in November - shutting outlets across the country, including Bedfordshire Live, while local radio stations are being slimmed down.

Owen added: “Employers should work with Unions to provide journalists, producers and everyone who works in media with decent pay and conditions. This must include ending zero-hours contracts, paying a genuine living wage and boosting collective bargaining rights”.

“Without concerted effort by the Government, Ofcom, and media companies”, said Owen, “good local media will be a feature of the past, and local democracy and communities will be much poorer for it”.