View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. News
March 1, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 11:04am

Archant asks magazine subscribers to ditch print in favour of ‘eco’ digital subscription

By Andrew Kersley

Archant is asking subscribers to its regional Life series of magazines to swap from their print editions for digital.

In a draft letter seen by Press Gazette, subscribers to the regional publisher’s 20 county Life magazines were asked if they would consider receiving “your May issue magazine content via the app instead of in a print copy”.

The email stressed that the new “eco subscription” is not compulsory but told subscribers it would be a chance for them to “save paper” as “you have told us that doing your bit for the environment is something that matters to you”.

An Archant spokesperson confirmed that the company was taking the unusual step of asking its own subscribers to stop receiving print versions of their Life magazines, saying it was part of a strategy set out in the middle of last year as part of an effort to achieve net zero-emissions at the company.

In addition the pandemic and ongoing surge in energy costs have together led to an industry-wide rise in newspaper and magazine printing costs, but Archant said this was not the primary reason for the initiative.

Last month, 200-year-old Cornish newspaper the Sunday Independent was put on hold indefinitely, in part due to rising print costs. In November, Daily Mail owner DMGT warned of future staff cuts as substantial increases in the costs of distribution, energy and newsprint hit revenues.

An Archant spokesperson said: “This initiative will help us mitigate increasing paper and print costs but the driver, at the point this strategy was set out in the middle of last year (prior to rising costs), is to drive the organisation forwards to net zero, which is of huge importance to us, the industry and our communities.”

Content from our partners
Cannes Lions: The world's best creativity all in one place
L'Equipe signs content syndication deal with The Content Exchange
Journalism can be relentless: But overworking could be fatal

They added: “This isn’t about a sudden switch to digital, it’s about encouraging our subscribers to join us in thinking differently about the platform in which they enjoy our content.

“For those subscribers who wish for their content to be delivered as a magazine, there will be no change. For those subscribers who are happy to join our initiative, they will have access to a new app and extensive archive.”

An Archant insider told Press Gazette that app take-up so far had been extremely low. The Archant spokesperson said the apps were still in beta testing and would be fully launched over the coming months.

“The potential benefit of saving some money will be minimal, but the damage that the letter will do [to the brands’ reputations] can’t be measured,” one staffer at Archant said. “These are luxury magazines that people buy and advertisers advertise in because they’re something to sit down with and spend time over… you don’t get that with the app.”

Press Gazette understands that advertisers who paid for print space were not informed of the letter asking subscribers to shift onto the apps in advance.

Narinder Randhawa, national president of the Federation of Independent Retailers, said Archant’s decision “just goes to show the contempt that they have for retailers who have supported their titles for decades”.

The Fed’s head of news Brian Murphy added: “I would remind Archant, and any other publishers who may be thinking of following a similar strategy, that there are very few examples of it being successful.”

The move comes amid reports that private equity firm Rcapital has put Archant up for sale after 18 months of ownership. Archant has since sold several of its magazine titles, including Agricultural Trader and Canal Boat, to specialist publisher Kelsey Media.

Earlier this month, Sky News reported that regional rival Newsquest, owned by US publishing giant Gannett, had secured a period of exclusivity in which to strike a deal for Archant’s newspapers.

Rcapital bought Archant, which is the UK’s fourth largest local newspaper publisher, out of administration in August 2020 in a deal which left shareholders with nothing and saw the pension fund taken over by the government.

Topics in this article :

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network