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November 29, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:40am

The i editor defends paper’s editorial integrity against Corbyn warning over new ‘billionaire’ owner

By Freddy Mayhew

The i editor Oly Duff has defended his paper’s editorial independence after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised its new billionaire owner Viscount Rothermere, who also owns the Daily Mail.

The acquisition of the i paper by the Daily Mail General Trust from JPI Media for just under £50m, announced this morning, adds a fourth national print newspaper to the news group’s portfolio.

It already publishes the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and free Metro newspapers, as well as Mail Online and the Metro website.

The move prompted Corbyn to tweet: “Two billionaire press barons now own half of the top ten daily newspapers. Remember this when they attack Labour’s plan to make the super-rich pay their fair share.”

Corbyn appears to also be referring to Sun and Times owner Rupert Murdoch.

Duff responded that the i paper would continue to “report on politics without fear or favour” under its new owner, echoing assurances from DMGT that it was “committed to preserving” the title’s editorial independence.

“It’s why our readers trust us. They judge us on our journalism. Hopefully you will welcome the same scrutiny,” Duff tweeted.

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“And on a point of fact we haven’t actually attacked Labour’s plan to make the highest earners pay more tax. We remain editorially independent, politically impartial.”

The i is known for taking a neutral stance in its political reporting.

The acquisition of the title, which is expected to be reviewed by the UK competition watchdog, further consolidates ownership of the UK’s national print newspapers into a few hands.

It follows last year’s takeover of the Express and Star titles by Mirror owner Trinity Mirror, now rebranded as Reach, from Richard Desmond to become the largest news publisher in the UK. The deal was worth £127m.

Purchasing the i paper has increased DMGT’s national print circulation to 3.7m (see below), the largest of any UK news publisher by some margin. The i has also recently launched a news app and revamped its website.

The i newsroom is based in the same office off Kensington High Street as the Independent, Standard, Mail and Metro titles.

The newspaper was launched in 2010 as a concise and cut-price sister title to the Independent under ESI Media (which also owns the Standard) who sold it to Johnston Press in 2016.

JPI Media was formed by creditors when Johnston Press went into administration late last year. The publisher is also in negotiations to sell off its regional titles, which include daily the Yorkshire Post, for which Reach ruled itself out of the running today.

The i made £9.3m in 2017, its first full year of trading under Johnston Press in 2017, and £6m in the first half of 2018. These are the latest available accounts reporting the title’s earnings.

UK national newspaper circulations and owners (Oct 2019 – ABC)

DMGT (Viscount Rothermere)

  • Daily Mail 1,136,247
  • Mail on Sunday 959,671
  • Metro 1,420,796
  • The i 221,083
  • Total print circulation: 3,737,797

News UK (Rupert Murdoch)

  •  The Sun 1,223,771
  • Sun on Sunday 1,042,909
  • The Times 367,074
  • Sunday Times 655,618
  • Total print circulation: 3,289,372

Reach plc

  • Daily Mirror 463,256
  • Sunday Mirror 378,239
  • Daily Express 302,690
  • Sunday Express 260,823
  • Daily Star 292,395
  • Daily Star Sunday 174,309
  • Sunday People 144,832
  • Total print circulation: 2,016,544

Telegraph Media Group (Barclay brothers)

  •  Daily Telegraph 308,015
  • Sunday Telegraph 246,797
  • Total print circulation: 554,812

Guardian Media Group (Scott Trust)

  •  The Guardian 128,492
  • The Observer 160,068
  • Total print circulation: 288,560

Nikkei

  •  Financial Times 168,958

Picture: Toby Melville/Reuters

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