Editorial

Time to move to zero Vat rate

September 13th, 2022 11:40 AM

By Southern Star Team

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THIS week, representative organisations of Irish newspapers are launching a campaign to seek the removal of Vat from print and online papers in the Budget.

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

Reducing it to zero would mean we would come in line with many other European countries, whose governments support journalism with Vat rates below 9%, and some are already at zero, like our nearest neighbour, the UK.

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

Journalism today is under enormous threat – from the growing power of the big tech platforms, which are disrupting journalism worldwide; from the new digital advertising models which have put enormous pressure on traditional local and national media, and from the growth of ‘fake news’ – a modern term for disinformation.

The growth of disinformation online means trusted and professional sources of news are more vital than ever and key to democracy itself. We do not have to look further than across the Atlantic to see the damage that peddling ‘fake news’ can do to a modern democracy.

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

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

Local newspapers are vital to their communities and provide factual sources to inform views and policy decisions.

Quality, professional journalism – at both local and national level – is essential for a healthy democracy and supports the wider news eco-system for broadcasters and digital publishers.

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

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

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

At the very least, a zero Vat would allow Irish news publishers to help secure their future by investing in the business of journalism, giving greater value to readers and preserving jobs.

Traditional news publishers also need to invest in the digital transition and ending the Vat payment would help support that transformation to competitive online models.

A detailed submission was made to the Department of Finance by the two major newspaper organisations – Newsbrands Ireland and Local Ireland – before the summer recess. The measure to help national and local newspapers would realise €18.5m for our sector, at a time when it has never been more necessary – or urgent.

Today we are asking you, as a 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 TDs.

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