Community newspapers could qualify as charities, says watchdog

By David Ainsworth, Third Sector Online, 16 September 2011



Charity Commission says they might advance various charitable purposes but applications would be considered on their merits

The Charity Commission has indicated that producing a community newspaper could be considered a charitable purpose.

The regulator was responding to calls for a change in the law to make it easier for community newspapers to attain charitable status.

A spokeswoman for the commission said: "While the provision of news is not a charitable purpose in itself, in principle a community newspaper could further a charitable purpose through the advancement of citizenship, arts and culture, and recreational facilities."

She said no such organisation had yet made an application to register as a charity."Any application would need to be considered on its own merits against the existing legal framework," she said.

The specialist charity lawyer Lord Phillips said earlier this week that it was "as plain as the nose on your face" that a local newspaper provided a service to the community and that "the promotion of community life is explicitly a charitable purpose".

Phillips, founder of the law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, was speaking at the launch this week of a report by the academic bodies Polis and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which proposes new models for the charitable ownership of local newspapers.

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