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Independent publisher steps in to save closure-threatened weekly

A 151-year-old newspaper threatened with closure has been saved after a new owner was unveiled.

The Banbridge Chronicle has been taken over by newly-formed company Bann Media Ltd after three months of uncertainty about its future.

It was revealed in October the Chronicle was set to shut following “commercial difficulties” during the coronavirus pandemic, but later the same month Scottish publisher DNG Media was reported as being “close to a deal” to buy the paper.

Bann Media is a subsidiary of Medquest Group, which also owns DNG, and the firm’s managing director Peter Laidlaw will also serve as Bann Media’s MD following the deal with the Chronicle’s previous owner, the Hodgett family.

Bann Media MD Peter Laidlaw, left, with Chronicle editor Bryan Hooks

Bann Media MD Peter Laidlaw, left, with Chronicle editor Bryan Hooks

The Chronicle, launched in 1870, continued publishing while the negotiations were ongoing.

A statement posted on the paper’s Facebook page reads: “Great news. The directors of Banbridge Chronicle Press Ltd are pleased to announce that the sale of the title has been successfully completed.

“New owners, Bann Media Ltd, take over the publishing of the title as from next week’s edition.

“Managing director of the company, Mr Peter Laidlaw, thanked Mr Alwyn Hodgett and his fellow directors for their help in the transfer of the title.

“Peter, who also runs the group’s community weeklies in South West Scotland and Argyll and Bute, said that he was looking forward to the continued publication of the heritage title.

“He thanked readers and advertisers for their continued support during the transition period, which had been ‘important and encouraging’.

“He added that editor, Bryan Hooks, led an experienced team that would look to build on the traditional strengths of the Banbridge Chronicle.

“Bann Media Ltd is determined to continue and enhance the good name of the Banbridge Chronicle, earned over the past 150 years, into the future.”

The statement also revealed that from next week, the Chronicle will relaunch with a new, fresh design on a new publication day of Thursday.

DNG publishes paid-for weeklies the Annandale Herald, the Moffat News and the Annadale Observer, while it also runs free title the Dumfries Courier.