Local newspapers and the "crucial role" they play must be protected amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Scottish Conservatives have said.

News publishing supports around 4,000 jobs in Scotland, as well as providing a vital public service.

Shadow finance secretary Donald Cameron has now urged his SNP counterpart Kate Forbes to work with the UK Government to ensure action is taken as quickly as possible.

He said a 100 per cent rates holiday was essential, and that the Scottish Government should direct more advertising in the direction of newspapers.

He also suggested investing in a similar scheme to the Danish government, which has introduced a fund for media organisations during the crisis.

A similar initiative by the Scottish Government could be replicated for around £25 million.

A trusted media loan scheme has also been floated, which established titles could sign up to.

Mr Cameron said: “We are seeing throughout the coronavirus crisis just how vital newspapers and broadcast media are.

“In my own region of the Highlands and Islands, the local newspapers, websites and radio have always played a valued part in the life of our communities, and they are continuing to do so during this crisis when up-to-date local information is indispensable.

“They also play a crucial role in holding both the Scottish and UK governments to account, and in carrying vitally important public health messages.

“But these are also publications who, in some cases, are a month away from collapse.

“We simply cannot allow this industry to disappear, and the Scottish Government needs to step in and ensure these publications are supported.

“It should be providing support in the form of a rates holiday, and channelling more of its considerable advertising budget in the direction of the local press.

“It would be extremely regrettable if newspapers, having played such a critical role during this health and economic emergency, were allowed to collapse immediately afterwards.

“We know papers have been struggling for years, but this could be a chance to finally boost their resources and ensure they can continue operating for generations to come.”

Fred Silver, editor of EVENTS newspaper based in Stornoway, echoed the comments: "We face an almost insuperable challenge in the present lockdown conditions as there are no coming events to report on or preview…and so many of our monthly advertisers are closed down. Yet people still want to read news, and get accurate, curated information. We would welcome a dialogue with elected representatives at any level to see how this could be achieved."