Regional publisher Johnston Press has moved to dampen rampant speculation that it plans to move more of its daily titles to weekly publication.
Earlier this week JP announced that the Scarborough Evening News, Halifax Courier, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph and Peterborough Evening Telegraph would be relaunched as weeklies next month.
However there has since been mounting speculation throughout the industry that all but two of the group’s current portfolio of daily newspapers have been earmarked for the change.
This is thought to have been triggered by inaccurate reports in some media outlets that only The Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post were safe from the potential frequency change.
A Johnston Press source told HTFP that, although taking either of those titles weekly has been specifically ruled out in response to media questions on the issue, it would be “wrong” to assume this meant all the other daily titles are at risk.
Although The Scotsman is regarded as a flagship, some of JP’s other daily titles, such as The News, Portsmouth, and the Edinburgh Evening News, actually have bigger circulations.
Meanwhile Gary Fearon, managing director of JP’s North-West business unit, has said there are “no plans” to move the Blackpool Gazette, Lancashire Evening Post or Wigan Evening Post to weekly publication.
He said: “Our daily titles – along with our stable of weekly newspapers in the county – have a long and proud tradition of serving their local communities and are successful operations that are well respected.
“Our titles are at the heart of the communities they serve and we are committed to reporting local news and continuing to serve as a powerful platform for readers’ views and concerns.
“We recognise the value of our loyal readership and will continue to serve it in whatever format is required. While we clearly need to be mindful of audience demands and trading conditions, we have no current plans to convert our daily titles to weekly publications.”
A similarly-worded story was today running in Sheffield daily The Star under the headline: “The Star: Your daily newspaper.”
Editor Jeremy Clifford said: “The Star has a long and proud tradition of serving its local communities and is well respected. During its 125-year history, there have been many changes to its format, including taking it from broadsheet to tabloid.
“Each of these decisions are influenced by what we think is right for the communities we operate in, the market and for the needs of the business.
“We recognise the value of our loyal readership and will continue to serve it in whatever format is required. While we clearly need to be mindful of audience demands and trading conditions, we have no current plans to convert The Star to a weekly publication.”