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Regional publishers link arms to lobby ministers

A group of regional newspaper publishers have joined forces to lobby the Government for more help for the industry as the recesssion bites.

The newly-formed Local Media Alliance comprises representatives of most of the big local newspaper owners including Trinity Mirror, Archant and Johnston Press.

They met the communications minister Lord Carter last month to ask for the relaxation of government restrictions on mergers.

Shortly after this, the Government confirmed that an ongoing review of the cross-media ownership rules, which some publishers had feared might take two years, would be completed by the end of April.

Both Trinity Mirror and Archant have confirmed the existence of the group and their membership of it.

It is understood that the other members of the Alliance include Johnston Presss, Newsquest, Northcliffe Media, Guardian Media Group and DC Thomson.

Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey said: “We need to make sure that government is fully aware of how crucial this issue is to the very future and survival of the regional press industry.

“Given the quick turnaround time involved, it was essential that we moved fast. We’ve wasted no time in striking up an active dialogue with Lord Carter to face this issue head-on and united as an industry.”

Roger Parry, who steps down as chairman of Johnston Press next month, has been appointed chairman of the group.

He told “This is not a lobbying organisation but a way for the regional press to act quickly and efficiently to provide information and responses to government in a fast-moving situation.”

News of the alliance emerged as the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson appeared to rule out the idea of direct subsidies to newspaper groups.

He said: “I don’t think government subsidies are the right way forward. But where we can help in maintaining public sector advertising and applying cross-media competition rules, we should certainly consider doing so.”


Mr_Osato (04/03/2009 12:20:14)
The point is these people are not lobbyists. Nor are they innovators, original thinkers, sound managers of talent, journalists or avid defenders of the media. They were brought in, promoted and lauded because they could cut costs without (so the thinking went) damaging revenue streams. That business model, which was inherently suicidal anyway, is now dead. They need to be swept away now and replaced by people who can do the job, so it’s no surprise they’re linking arms to try and justify their existence.
Don’t worry, no Jack London quotes in this one so no need to delete it.

Elvishasleftthebuilding (04/03/2009 12:48:51)
It’s a shame the group doesn’t include any journalists. But perhaps that’s because this isn’t about journalism at all, it’s all about protecting the shareholders.
The short-sighted culture of job cuts and penny pinching while failing to keep up with new technologies and having no interest in innovation is why this industry is on its knees.

Another Northcliffe Old-Hand (04/03/2009 13:10:42)
The industry totally missed the very real opportunity to get its act together over a decade ago when the serious threat to classified advertising revenue first became apparent. At that time individual group interests, mediocre management and focus on maintaining unsustainable profits without any serious investment doomed every attempt to failure. From Ostrich to Dinosaur in record time!

roger parry (04/03/2009 20:26:13)
I am the Chairman of the LMA. And as it happens I am an ex-journalist.
Personally I am 100% committed to the introduction of new technology and new skills.
The future of local media is about the marriage of on-line and print and of developing a new generation of journalists with skills in video/ audio and written output.
The LMA is providing data and examples to show that changes to the merger regime will enable the development of larger and stronger businesses which can invest in new technologies and new skills.
But unless those businesses to radically change the way they serve local readers and advertisers the current problems will not be solved

JP Ground Down (04/03/2009 21:14:40)
Roger Parry – “100% committed to the introduction of new technology and new skills”, but stepping down next month. An image of the Titanic driver boarding a speedboat to safety comes to mind!

Observer (04/03/2009 21:18:15)
Roger, you say ‘serve local readers’. Sorry mate, but newspapers and now websites haven’t for years. Maybe the change should be to actually SERVE local readers, advertisers and communities. You can’t do that on skeleton staff who are being asked to do more and more, work beyond their paid hours for free and most of who can’t wait to be out of newspapers altogether.
You probably think I’m a whinger, but that’s the bottom line mate. If this is successful it won’t see investment in the businesses, just more to the leeches who are sucking this industry dry.

Another Northcliffe Old-Hand (05/03/2009 08:28:41)
Roger, however it’s dressed up this is about opening the doors to consolidation in order to further reduce costs and maintain historic profit levels for as long as possible. It is not about investment in the future. The future has arrived and even if shareholders had the appetite for investment the cost of entry into the areas of digital media that actually make money is now prohibitive. If you succeed and this enables some titles to survive and some employment to be maintained then good luck to you and your colleagues but the outcome cannot possibly be ‘larger stronger businesses’.

JP slumpdog (05/03/2009 09:53:49)
Observer has it spot on. Groups like JP were quick enough to shove their massive profits in shareholders’ pockets without one thought given to investing in what sells local newspapers, ie decent journalism. They’ve made it plain they aren’t interested and now want the government to take pity on the. It’s a farce. Just hope the govt listens to Denis McShane talking sense for a change.

crosspurpose (05/03/2009 11:44:19)
For an insight into Roger Parry’s qualifications to pontificate on he realities of local media production, see this revealing day in the life profile on
By the way Roger, congratulations on helping steer Johnston’s to its current disastrous share price – best of luck with the new job!

JP Factory (05/03/2009 16:00:47)
Parry – you class yourself as an “ex-journalist”. When? Where? More importantly why aren’t you still a journalist and would you like to be one in today’s climate? I admit the views are much less rosy on the ground and there’s substantially less champers! As a ground-level worker I want journalism to have a future and I’m prepared to work hard but what incentives are there? The wages are lousy, the workforce is being shredded and doors to opportunities slam like drums every day. The incentive? To keep the fat cats’ profits as fat as possible.