A regional publisher has hit back at union criticism by insisting it will not close down a weekly freesheet.
Last week, the Office of Fair Trading cleared Northcliffe Media’s bid to buy Nottingham independent free weekly the Topper.
The decision followed a lengthy investigation into whether the deal would breach competition rules as Northcliffe also owns the rival Nottingham Post.
The Topper is now the only free weekly distributed in Nottingham following Northcliffe’s closure of the Nottingham Recorder last June – shortly before it entered into talks to buy the Topper.
The National Union of Journalists had raised concerns that Northcliffe would now close down the Topper, but this was explicitly denied in a statement today from Nottingham publisher Steve Hollingsworth.
Said Steve: “We have no plans to close the Topper, our priority is to make it into a sustainable business.”
Earlier NUJ Northern Organiser Chris Morley said he feared the title would be closed down.
He said: “This is not good news for the staff nor the local community. This is a sizable population and it is not getting the plurality of media that it needs or deserves. We need to hear Northcliffe give assurances that it will be investing in, and not cutting, this important title.”
Diana Peasey, chair of the Nottingham NUJ branch, added: “I’m disappointed with the decision. We are concerned that this has all taken place with the closure of the Nottingham Recorder in the run up to the takeover bid for the Topper – both of which are weeklies. Meanwhile the Nottingham Post is considering yet more redundancies. So much for the protection of quality.”
In allowing the takeover, the OFT concluded that while the merger would lead to a “high combined share of supply of local newspapers and local paper advertising space in Nottingham,” other competitive restraints would protect consumers from price increases.