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Independent publisher buys sister weeklies and reveals expansion plans

Peter MastersAn independent publisher has bought two sister weeklies and revealed plans to launch more local newspapers.

Peter Masters and his company Independent Media Ltd have taken a controlling stake in Newquay Voice and St Austell Voice, with documents filed at Companies House showing the venture owns at least 75pc of the papers’ publisher Ad’ Sales Ltd.

Mr Masters, pictured, owns the Sunday Independent, which covers the West Country, and Cornwall Today magazine, which he bought from Reach plc in 2018 after it was threatened with closure.

Newquay Voice was launched by Andrew and Chrissie Laming 19 years ago, with St Austell Voice following in 2006.

Speaking to news website Cornwall Reports, Newquay Voice group editor Simon Fernley said the takeover did not pose any questions about the future of the newspaper titles and described it as “business as usual”.

Mr Masters, a former owner of Truro City Football Club, told Cornwall Reports there are now plans to launch further weekly titles in the Voice family and expand existing titles with more pages of local news and sport coverage.

The Independent’s Truro offices will serve as a production and management hub for all titles.

Mr Masters said: “The Voice titles are well loved in the communities they serve and have proven that print media has a bright future.

“We have also worked extremely hard to take The Independent and Cornwall Today from a precarious position to one where they are sustainable and now thriving. And we have created new jobs for journalists and sales executives along the way.

“Now we have joined forces with the Newquay Voice and St Austell Voice we can all be stronger together. We are committed to newspapers and committed to Cornwall. We have ambitious plans to develop The Independent and to add to our growing portfolio of Cornish publications.

“Cornwall deserves to have its own home-grown print titles and we are delighted to be providing them.”

Mr Masters also previously owned the View From series, which was based in Lyme Regis, although those titles ceased publication in 2018.

A court has since ruled Duncan Williams, who subsequently bought the titles from Mr Masters, is liable for money owed to a group of 28 former View From employees who were made redundant when the titles closed.

Mr Williams told HTFP this week a second appeal over the decision is still in place with the High Court.

HTFP has approached Mr Masters for a comment on the purchase of the Voice titles.