Credit: Mark Nozell via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Will newspapers pass on the abolished VAT saving to their subscribers?

One of the items that was suspiciously forecast by the mainstream media which still turns out physical product was the “hint” that the Government was “favourably disposed” to reducing and perhaps, who knows, even abolishing the 9% VAT on newspapers and subscriptions to digital publications.

This was announced by Taoiseach Micheál Martin in response to an inspired question from a journalist at his presser in New York where he attended the United Nations to put manners on Russia for placing secret policemen in Dublin. Oh no, that was a different authoritarian state which Ireland certainly does not lecture. Nor even doth protest overly when they held an Irish citizen, Richard O’Halloran for the best part of three years.

We do of course have a vigilant mainstream media that does monitor the Chinese Communist Party’s activities in Ireland. Eventually …


Back to the VAT. It was a relatively small source of revenue – at somewhere around €18 million – and it’s abolition is not necessarily a bad thing. However, to be doubly cynical, it might be regarded as a favour to a media which by any standards is unusually meek and on the same page on almost everything the state does.

That was evident during the Covid panic when the mainstream media was far more than an echo chamber for the government and the main opposition party in their ultra draconian stance on the lockdown, vaccines and so on. It functioned more as an unquestioning state propaganda service. To the extent where even mildly dissenting voices were censored.

You had to come to Gript and a very small number of intrepid tweeters and blogsters to hear anything different. Some of whom paid the price for their “dissent” with their jobs, never mind just being excluded from the great Athenian Agora that constitutes the Irish media universe.

That ought to be borne in mind when you hear An Taoiseach and others refer to the need to foster an open and accessible media as a central part of the democratic process. This being the reason why they have decided to abolish the VAT.

The second part of cynicism is to wonder whether all or part of the saving to the publishers will be passed on to newspaper consumers and subscribers. Watch that space.

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