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Union calls on competition regulators to take action for media plurality after Trinity Mirror newspaper closures

The National Union of Journalists has hit out at competition regulators for taking “no action” over newspaper closures it claims have dented media plurality in parts of the UK.

It comes after Trinity mirror closed titles OneMK in Milton Keynes, Luton on Sunday and the Northampton Herald and Post last week following an announcement in October.

In a letter to the Competition and Markets Authority the union said the closures would“diminish plurality and competition and damage the interests of readers and the wider public”.

It said Trinity Mirror’s decision to shut the publications – resulting in six editorial staff losing their jobs – was made “without consultation”

The union added: “The announcement about shutting the titles was made as a fait accompli. There has been no public consultation with stakeholders, businesses, readers or staff.

“The titles have not been put up for sale. No other potentially interested party has had the opportunity to come forward or bid.

“There has been no opportunity to review the impact of the decision on editorial and business plurality, competition, public interest and the democratic deficit.

“The closure creates a monopoly for Johnston Press in Northants. This will be the only outlet for local newspaper advertising in print and online.”

The NUJ said Trinity Mirror had been “making editorial cuts and closing titles” since buying up Local World titles as part of a £220m deal last year.

The deal was investigated by the CMA, but it decided not to intervene. The union has called for the situation to be reviewed in light of the recent closures.

Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: “The closure of these titles is a travesty.

“Trinity Mirror, and other publishers, will continue to act with impunity unless they are properly investigated by the organisations which are supposed to hold them to account.

“The Competition and Markets Authority should stop dragging its feet while titles continue to be allowed to shut down, dangerously diminishing plurality in our local media.

“It is just not good enough.”

A Trinity Mirror spokesperson said: “We took the difficult decision to close three free weekly titles in Luton, Milton Keynes and Northampton as part of a review of our portfolio, and after a full consultation with the staff affected.

“The print and advertising markets face ongoing challenges which all publishers must respond to. Nobody cares more about the long term health and sustainability of the regional media industry than us.

“In the Bedfordshire region we are not exiting the market. We are increasing the focus on Bedfordshire on Sunday, increasing its distribution into Luton, and broadening its online coverage.”

Comments

5 thoughts on “Union calls on competition regulators to take action for media plurality after Trinity Mirror newspaper closures”

  1. What the nuj don’t seem to realise is that newspapers are up against stiff competition from the likes of google, facebook, right move etc etc. They have not exited the areas as they stated they are bringing out new publications. It is simply a business decision. Areas are lucky to have one newspaper as many areas do not have any. Why the cma need to be involved is simply ludicrous, particularly when newspapers are up against it already. It was only a short while back that the cma were involved with the kent messenger group, look what happened… many of the papers were scrapped, read it here

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/KM_Group

    What we do need for regional papers to survive are tax breaks and new incentives to claw back some market share from the likes of google etc, not more moaning from the nuj. And then you have editors moaning about unfair competition from a council newsletter… you couldn’t make this stuff up! The editor of the hackney citizen stated that the newsletter was taking revenue away from their title. So they want to have all of the cake and eat it. I say fair play to the council for producing such a good newsletter and keeping the cost down to the taxpayer at the same time. Double standards…

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