Reach plc (once much better known as Trinity Mirror plc) is the owner of the Western Gazette, Mid Somerset gazette, Wells Journal and Frome Standard. Announcing a trading update on Friday CEO Simon Fox noted revenues had risen by 23%. A big move against recent trends. No. The reason for the rise in circulation and advertising revenue was entirely due to Reach buying the Express newspaper group.
If you strip out the results of the Express papers, revenues actually fell by 5%. Still not that bad compared with recent years. However within those numbers, as CEO Simon Fox explained last week, digital advertising grew by 8%.
So poor old print and paper is beginning to look like the sick child of the family. Fox told Radio 4’s Today programme “we are investing in digital journalism and we see that as ultimately replacing the profit that we are losing over time from newspapers.” When asked if digital sites would replace local newspapers, Fox told the programme “certainly that is the direction of travel. Our local digital sites are growing extremely fast and newspapers in the regions are under as much pressure as national newspapers.”
This does not bode well for the future of the titles that Reach plc have in Somerset, five of whose editors will be made redundant in the New Year as we reported in the December Leveller.