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Company suspends publication of free titles due to COVID-19

An independent publisher has announced the suspension of all of its free titles due to coronavirus.

The Midland News Association has announced the move in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and has also opened a voluntary furlough scheme to all staff.

Free titles produced by the MNA include “the UKs biggest free weekly newspaper” Chronicle Week, the Shrewsbury Chronicle and Telford Journal.

The move comes into force with immediate effect, while the company is also asking all employees to consider being placed on the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme – which will see them put on furlough with 80pc of their salary.

Chronicle Week

But the MNA says some requests will not be accepted if those making them are “considered vital to the operation of the business”.

The moves were announced in a memo to staff by print managing director Graeme Clifford and digital managing director Louise Burns.

In the memo, seen by HTFP, they said: “Advertisers are starting to pull away in significant numbers, seriously impacting upon MNA print and digital. Publishers around the world are looking at the frequency and indeed the sustainability of printed products particularly those that are advertising funded.

“Our modelling suggests that advertising revenues will fall off dramatically at the peak of the outbreak, which for our group will represent a significant revenue shortfall. Given the context of the above we need to take action now to ensure the survival of the group.”

They added: “I hope that colleagues will understand the very difficult situation we are in and take time to fully consider if they can help. It is in everyone’s interest that we work together to ensure the company can survive and thrive once again in the future.”

HTFP has approached the MNA for further comment.