Seven of the UK’s largest media publishers have produced a report urging the Office of Fair Trading to improve the process for newspaper mergers.
The publishers, known as the Local Media Alliance (LMA), submitted the 108-page report, titled ‘The Case for Modernising the Approach to Local Media Mergers’, on March 31.
The LMA believes the system needs updating to reflect the changes in today’s local media markets and to ensure there is a long-term future for local newspapers.
The report details what the group want changed in the merger process, including more flexibility with newspaper mergers, so the industry can move into the multimedia sector more easily.
Roger Parry, chairman of the LMA explained the importance of the mergers process in the introduction of the report.
“This consolidation will support local efficiency and effectiveness to the benefit not only of the larger publishing organisations but also smaller publishers who will be able to grow their businesses through title acquisition or exchange that has previously been prevented.”
The LMA said changing the process would not deny local advertisers the choice of where they allocate their media expenditure, nor prevent readers from being able to access local news from local journalists. Local titles could be protected by creating merged organisations with a clear focus on local media, it said.
According to the report, there are 40 million readers a week for print across 1,300 newspaper titles, while 24 million users access 1,200 local newspaper websites, which shows that the local newspaper industry remains a large and diverse, with 87 publishing groups.
“It is the firm belief of the LMA members that print publications will continue to play a pivotal role in the local multimedia business of the future,” added Parry.