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Council news round-up: ad revenue shortage for East End Life and plans for new council TV

September 17th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers

There’s been much debate amongst regional and local newspaper representatives in the UK about the impact of local authority ‘newspapers’ or freesheets on their advertising revenue, role in the community and news coverage.

Yet much of this debate has been difficult to frame, with exact details of staffing numbers, cost and output of these publications varying between authority.

In London, Andrew Gilligan suggested that local authorities in the city employed more staff writers than the capital’s newspapers.

This week some more stats can be added to the picture:

Press Gazette reports that Tower Hamlets’ Borough Council paper, East End Life, will need an extra £400,000 of tax payers’ money to keep it going.

According to a mid-year budget report from the authority, the freesheet is suffering from a £396,000 shortfall in advertising for the current financial year.

Deputy leader of the council, Joshua Peck, reportedly told the East London Advertiser that this lack of ad revenue would be made up for with cuts to the authority’s communications budget.

Add to this HoldtheFrontPage’s report on the cost of East End Life, which states:

“A previous investigation by the Advertiser showed that public-sector organisations paid a total of £980,000 to advertise in East End Life, making the true cost to the public purse £1.1 million a year.

“An alternative budget put forward by Tory councillor Tim Archer earlier in the year suggested the council could save £670,000 or 1pc off the average council tax, by scrapping the paper and taking out advertising with the Advertiser instead.”

Elsewhere, plans for a new TV station launched by Carmarthenshire Council (link spotted via Jon Slattery’s blog) have come under criticism.

According to a report on thisissouthwales.co.uk, the station would cost £30,000 a year to run. In a move to fund the new station, the authority is planning to drop one of its bi-monthly news magazines, which currently costs more than £114,000 to produce and distribute.

Industry groups have called on the Audit Commission to investigate the impact of local council newspapers on the regional media industry, as part of the government’s recommendations to the commission in the Digital Britain report. But the commission said such an assessment should be made by the Office of Fair Trading.

The commission will however review all aspects of council communications including press offices, publications, websites and expenditure on advertising jobs.

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Times Online: Google shows support for local newspaper mergers

May 19th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

The search engine giant will today make the case that regional newspaper publishers should be allowed to merger, because of the impact of Google and other internet companies, in its submission to the Office of Fair Trading’s review of the existing newspaper merger structure.

Full article at this link…

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UK Newspaper alliance calls for merger process to be modernised

April 2nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Newspapers

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.

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Media Release: Office of Fair Trading seeks input on local media mergers

February 13th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted by in Media releases, Newspapers

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is seeking initial views on local and regional media mergers as part of a review following the UK government’s Digital Britain report.

Full release at this link…

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Press Gazette: What’s wrong with the OFT’s policy on print distribution?

October 30th, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Magazines, Newspapers

Lawyers Stephen Hornsby and Michael Evens from Davenport Lyons analysis the flaws in the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) decision not to refer the distribution of magazines and newspapers to the Competition Commission.

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links for 2008-07-01

July 1st, 2008 | No Comments | Posted by in Uncategorized
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