Public Interest Journalism Working Group recommendations: Scottish Government response

Our response to the short-life Public Interest Journalism Working Group recommendations set out in its report: Scotland's News - towards a sustainable future for public interest journalism.

Recommendation 5 - Public sector advertising and marketing scrutiny

The Working Group recommends that Audit Scotland, in partnership with the proposed Scottish Public Interest Journalism Institute, should conduct an annual audit of advertising and marketing investment by the Scottish Government and public bodies, to include a measurement of the impact of this expenditure on the health of the Scottish news publishing landscape.

The Working Group also recommends that the Scottish Government should invest no less than 25% of its central advertising and marketing budget with public interest news providers.

The Scottish Government is committed to transparency and publishes its annual marketing spend online, which includes breakdowns for press spend.

We spend a significant amount on Scottish Government advertising in the press; we spent £3,683,701.37 in 2020/21.

Scottish Government press spend is placed through the Scottish Government Media Planning and Buying framework which provides a series of price guarantees for standard media requirements.

The buying of press advertising is audited against these guarantees bi-annually by an independent Media Auditor using the relevant expenditure figures from each of the framework media buying agencies. The activity is also audited annually against market rates where comparable figures are available.

The Scottish Government will review the current data which is published on expenditure and confirm whether more data can be released.

The Scottish Government makes decisions on marketing based on the best return of investment for taxpayer funds, therefore, it is unable to commit to investing a percentage of its central advertising budget with public interest news publishers.



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