Two printing plants will close if plans by news publishers to merge print operations go ahead.
But there are concerns that the proposal to close two Daily Mail sites in the UK – at Thurrock and Dinnington – and move production to News UK’s Broxbourne megasite and other locations, may be blocked by regulators.
New sales and circulation statistics for UK papers show a further fall, and a statement by News UK and DMG Media points to a drop in circulation of more than 60 per cent in the past ten years.
Circulation of the Daily Mail has now fallen below 800,000 (797,704) from 1.17 million in 2020 and 2.14 in 2011. New figures for News tabloid The Sun are not available, but it had fallen to 1.25 million in 2020 from more than three million a decade before.
The country’s largest circulation is now DMG’s free-distribution Metro commuter paper, but even distribution of this has been cut – to 953,475 this year from 1.02 million a year before.
Publishers facing rising print and energy costs are also looking to the impact of an increasingly challenging post-pandemic economic climate.
To avoid problems with regulator the Competition and Markets Authority, News UK and DMG Media have proposed a new “independent” company with management drawn from News’ Newsprinters and DMG Media’s print division, without the two working more closely in other areas.
A plan earlier this year to close Newsprinters’ Knowsley print site in Merseyside – part of which is already mothballed – is understood to be on hold. Newsprinters’ Eurocentral near Glasgow would not be affected, nor DMG Media’s Carn site in Northern Ireland.
The Newsprinters sites – equipped with hugely-productive triple-wide manroland Colorman XXL presses which largely avoid the need for inserting or post-processing – already print the Telegraph, Financial Times, Evening Standard, and Newsquest titles as well as News’ own Sun and Times products.
Broxbourne(pictured) – visited by GXpress in 2009 – and the other Newsprinters print sites were built in the “boom” times of the late 2000s, when DMG was updating its KBA Flexo-Courier presses in Harmsworth Quays, London, and installing more flexo, this time from Cerutti, in Didcot in Oxfordshire.
In a statement, both Newsprinters UK managing director Darren Barker and DMG Media group production director Julia Palmer-Poucher spoke of the reality of declining print readership.
“The decade-long decline in print circulation has not been matched with changes to print capacity and we must find ways to keep physical newspapers, which have an important future, commercially viable,” said Palmer-Poucher.
Google was launched (initially as Backrub) in 1998, sounding a death-knell for print advertising, especially classified. Apple’s iPhone followed in 2007.