Well, not really. Johnston isn’t going to be bailed out by any government.
Johnston Press is the “newspaper equivalent of HBOS and Northern Rock”, according to a union official on the company’s Leeds-based papers, where journalists have voted to go on strike for eight days later this month over compulsory redundancies. MediaGuardian
Johnston Press share price falls to 6.2p (down from 420p November 2007), possible breach of banking covenants due to large debt, possible collapse of publishing group:
“The lack of an effective digital strategy, few apparent plans aside from further cost cuts, and concerns over refinancing debt are the main reasons cited for the share-price collapse. However, it was the publication of an interim management statement earlier this month that precipitated the plunge. Reflecting the wider industry trends, classified advertising at the company between August and November had fallen sharply year-on-year. The most noteworthy figure was the 48.4% drop in revenue from property advertising.” http://tinyurl.com/57qe8v
Yesterday, Andrew Walsh, a media analyst with stockbrokers, Teathers, was quoted by Reuters, saying: “Whereas we [recently] saw a covenant [repayment undertaking between Johnston Press and its bank] breach as improbable, in the wake of the IMS, this now looks likely on our revised numbers.” http://www.allmediascotland.com/articles/3313/19112008/johnston_share_price_suffers_another_plunge
DMGT Associated Newspapers is to make 300 roles redundant in the London area, this equates to 6% of the London workforce. This is part of what is believed to be a 15% budget cut:
Trinity Mirror has warned of potential job losses: (Update: pay freeze for 2009, branch offices closed and reported 1200 redundancies so far)
The publishers of Time Out have announced a cut of 8% of their workforce, 13 jobs:
News Media job losses are running at around 140 per week, detailed in this post by Peter Kirwan of the Press Gazette: (Graph reproduced below)
In a reaction to these figures, Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the NUJ highlights the hidden impact of media organisations simply choosing not to replace staff:
(Update:) Newsquest North East to close branch offices and make 17 redundant: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/nov/21/newsquest-downturn
Graph of job losses
“Scottish newspaper The Aberdeen Press and Journal inadvertently made it easy to harvest sensitive information about registered users from its site as a result of a basic information security mistake.” The Register http://www.theregister.co.uk/
Details here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/02/scots_paper_privacy_snafu/
Aberdeen Press & Journal website: http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Default.aspx
Page impressions leapt 29% at the INM owned Belfast Telegraph new website – with comments from readers for the first time creating a source of news for the printed edition. The new website has definitely been smartened but does appear to have a thirty foot long home page and a preponderance of orange coloured adverts…
New Bel Tel website home page
Hold the front page article.
The plans to create over 60 local news sites by the BBC, funded at around £23m per year for several years is again coming under criticism from the Newspaper Society; which represents the majority of local UK newspaper publishers. The proposal by the BBC comes at a time when the UK regional newspaper publishers are placing greater resources and emphasis on their own local sites and local video content. The BBC proposal is undergoing a formal round of tests against public value against the Charter of the BBC.
Newspaper Society press release:
The depth of concern across the UK local media industry at the BBC’s plans to spend £68 million* of licence fee money duplicating their online news and sport services with a network of 65 local news video sites has been demonstrated by the sheer number of submissions, meetings and presentations which companies have made in the past six weeks, said the NS in its own response to the proposals.
In an unprecedented reaction to the threat posed to local media businesses, companies representing over 80 per cent of the industry have responded directly to the BBC Trust and Ofcom as part of the public value test and market impact assessment processes, said David Newell, director of the NS. Many others have joined them in voicing their concerns through the NS.
Archant, the largest independently owned regional newspaper group has reported profits down 9.9% year on year, to £13.1m for the first half of 2008.
Richard Jewson, Archant Chairman: “We have entered a period of significant difficulty for the regional press, evidenced by share price movements of quoted peer companies, with both cyclical downturn and structural changes impacting the sector. The depth and duration of the downturn is as yet unclear and we expect the difficult trading conditions to continue for at least the next year.” Press Gazette article
Interim results highlights
Archant’s latest (2008) half-year financial result headlines include:
• Operating profit before amortisation of intangible assets and exceptional items was down 9.9% at £13.1m (2007: £14.5m)
• Turnover down 5% at £93.6m (2007: £98.5m)