AddThis SmartLayers

Publisher’s new owner closes five papers ‘too far gone’ to survive in print

Five free newspapers will cease print publication after Archant’s new owner Newsquest decided they were “too far gone” to survive.

The regional publisher has confirmed free titles the Cambs Times, Diss Mercury, Thetford and Watton Times, West Suffolk Mercury and Felixstowe Extra will publish in print for the last time next week.

The closure of the Felixstowe paper, which was the Suffolk town’s first dedicated paper for a decade, comes after just five months in print.

However, Newsquest says all five titles will be retained as digital-only operations.

Cambs Times

Some of the print titles being closed date back centuries, with the Cambs Times having first been published in 1872 and the Thetford and Watton Times in 1880.

The Diss Mercury has been going at least since 1986.  The West Suffolk Mercury has also been known in recent years as the Sudbury Mercury and the Bury St Edmunds Mercury.

A Newsquest spokesperson told HTFP: “We are making good progress on turning around the Archant titles to a more sustainable footing, many of which were loss-making when we acquired the business.

“There are five small free newspapers in East Anglia that were too far gone in their print model and we have therefore taken the decision to transition these news brands to digital only.”

According to their most recent ABC certificates, the Thetford and Watton Times had a circulation of 12,659, the West Suffolk Mercury 10,789, the Cambs Times 8,624 and the Diss Mercury 8,239.

Felixstowe Extra, which was the Suffolk port’s first dedicated title for a decade, did not have an ABC certificate.

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker had previously warned the survival of Archant’s newspapers had “been in question for some time”, stating in a letter to Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries that a number of its free titles were loss-making enterprises.

Ms Dorries had previously announced she was “minded to” intervene in Newsquest’s takeover of Archant, but Henry warned her such a move would “cause further harm to the Archant staffing, titles and journalism, much of which may be irreparable.”

He added: “This would likely be very damaging to the prospects of getting these loss-making titles back to a sustainable position, using our expertise and common business resources to try to improve the titles for readers and advertisers before it is too late.”

Ms Dorries later cleared the takeover following the warning.