Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson poured scorn on “tech oligopolies” as he accused his opposite number Jeremy Wright of “sleeping on the job” and ignoring an "inevitable crisis in local news” after Johnston Press, which used to publish The Yorkshire Post, was put into administration.
The publisher was bought out by creditors through newly-formed company JPIMedia over the weekend, saving its titles and jobs.
During an urgent question in which several MPs praised The Yorkshire Post, highlighting its campaigns on One Yorkshire devolution and coverage of this year’s rail timetabling chaos, Mr Watson said newspaper proprietors like Rupert Murdoch had more respect for democracy than the likes of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, who refused to appear in front of a parliamentary hearing on social media.
Mr Watson said: "Whilst Ministers prevaricate and hold open sessions, tech oligopolies have consolidated their media advantage by dominating digital ad revenues, they continue to avoid fair taxes and will pay less once the Government's corporation tax cuts are introduced in the finance bill.
"Some have even allowed criminal data breaches on their platforms, worse they sneer at parliaments around the world trying to hold them to account.”
Culture Secretary Mr Wright replied: "The problems affecting local media have been apparent for some time and they are structural problems, that is precisely why we believe the right approach to take is to ask for an independent assessment of those structural problems which Dame Frances Cairncross is carrying out and will be completed shortly.”
Several parliamentarians praised The Yorkshire Post, including Hull MP Diana Johnson, who said: “The Yorkshire Post, founded in 1754, has been absolutely essential in making the case for Yorkshire and the North in the latest rail timetabling shambles that we’ve seen, and it’s important that we have that regional journalism that allows pressure to be put on the Government.”
Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel said: “The Yorkshire Post has been absolutely vital in our campaign for One Yorkshire devolution.
“Without The Yorkshire Post we wouldn’t have been able to bring a diverse set of parties forward.”
Rother Valley MP Sir Kevin Barron said The Yorkshire Post was a “national newspaper”, while Sheffield MP Louise Haigh also praised this outlet.