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March 25, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:04am

JPI Media suspends local print titles as advertising plummets during pandemic

By Freddy Mayhew

JPI Media has suspended 12 local print titles amid a “substantial reduction” in advertising and concerns over home deliveries under extreme measures imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The titles will all stop printing from Monday, 30 March. Areas affected include Bedfordshire, Sussex and the North East.

Websites covering the regions, such as Bedford Today, will continue to be updated “with relevant information” to support readers and advertisers.

The suspended titles comprise the following free newspapers and magazines:

  • Bedford Times & Citizen
  • MK Citizen
  • Luton Herald & Post
  • News Post Leader
  • Brighton & Hove Independent
  • News Guardian
  • Mid Sussex Gazette
  • Etc magazine

The free-distribution element of the following titles will also stop:

  • West Sussex Gazette
  • Crawley Observer
  • Hemel Gazette
  • Buckingham Advertiser/ Bicester Review.

In an email to staff, JPI Media chief executive David King said distributors had told JPI Media they could “no longer guarantee the distribution of those papers to households”.

The local publisher has said it is engaging with the Government to ensure its paid-for titles – such as the Yorkshire Post and Scotsman – can continue to be available in shops and supermarkets

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King said the company intends to retain staff during the pandemic and is exploring how it can use the various Government schemes to support both the business and employees.

Press Gazette reported yesterday that Newsquest is putting a “significant number” of staff on furlough under the Government’s job retention scheme, paying up to 80 per cent of salaries.

King said: “We have already seen a substantial reduction in advertising as necessary social distancing and free movement restrictions are imposed.

“We have engaged with the Government to ensure our key workers can continue to do their vital work, and provide news and information to the public.”

He said the publisher recognises the “important role we play in our communities, providing our readers with vital information at a critical time – and connecting our communities through the news and information we serve” and the “need to support our advertisers”.

King told staff: “I appreciate this is a very worrying time. We have made provision for you to work at home. We continue to operate our print sites with tight restrictions on access and internal movement.

“Please follow Government advice and keep yourself and your family safe.”

Read all Press Gazette’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and the news industry here

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