A media industry report is suggesting that cash-rich Dundee-based publishers, DC Thomson, are considering offering to acquire JPIMedia's three Edinburgh titles: The Scotsman
, Scotland on Sunday
and the Edinburgh Evening News
. Media industry website, HoldTheFrontPage (HTFP), reports: 'Both Reach plc-owned website, Scottish Business Insider, and the Daily Business, run by The Scotsman's
former business editor Terry Murden, have linked DC Thomson to the three titles'.
According to HTFP: 'An unnamed "well-placed media insider" told Scottish Business Insider: "There is a bid being considered for The Scotsman
. I don't know whether it will definitely go ahead but it is being considered". The source said they could see the commercial logic of such a bid for DC Thomson, adding: "It would give them strength down the whole east coast of Scotland"'.
DC Thomson already owns the Press and Journal
(P&J) and the Evening Express
in Aberdeen and Dundee's two dailies, The Courier
and the Evening Telegraph
HTFP claims that DC Thomson 'was touted as a potential buyer after JPIMedia put itself up for sale last year, but The Times
said at the time that it had "mainly ruled out bidding because it considers the likes of The Scotsman
to be overvalued"'.
The HTFP report continues: 'The Daily Business report, written by Terry Murden, states DC Thomson has "long been considered a more natural fit, culturally and geographically" for JPIMedia's Edinburgh-based titles. Murden added: "It would complete the coverage of the east of Scotland and in the current climate would be less likely to raise objections from the competition authorities"'.
'Although some parts of JPIMedia have already been hived off – notably national daily title, the i
, and three newspaper printing plants in Portsmouth, South Yorkshire and Northern Ireland,' added HTFP, 'it is understood that its preferred option is for a sale of the whole regional business as opposed to breaking the group up. Both Archant and former Local World boss, David Montgomery, are since reported to have tabled offers for JPIMedia which went back on the market in September'.
JPIMedia declined to comment on the speculation and HTFP said it was awaiting a response from DC Thomson.
The UK's most successful newspaper empire, Daily Mail General Trust (DMGT), has reported a 36% drop in profits to £72 million for the year-end to September, with revenue falling 10% to £1.2 billion. However Mail Online, the world's most successful online news site, grew revenues by 3% in the year to September despite the COVID-19 pandemic seriously hitting other parts of the company's business.
Press Gazette reports: 'In the consumer media business, DMG Media, revenue was down 13% to £604 million despite an underlying 1% growth in the first five months of the financial year before being hit by COVID-19. The biggest fall in revenue was at the Metro
, which reduced its circulation to a quarter of its previous levels at the start of the first UK lockdown.
'By September this figure was still less than half the pre-COVID-19 level despite commuters beginning to return to public transport, while the print advertising market remained "particularly challenging". Metro's
revenues therefore fell 40% to £47 million for the year.
'The Daily Mail
, Mail on Sunday
, Mail Online and Daily Mail TV together reported revenue of £508 million − down 9%. Mail Online made up 28% of this total and was the only part of the consumer media business to see growth.
'The website's [Mail Online] total average daily global unique browsers, excluding third-party platforms like Snapchat and Facebook video, was up 38% to 17.3 million largely thanks to [reader] interest in COVID-19, and this audience growth helped to mitigate the impact of reduced digital ad spend. Overall revenues at the Daily Mail
and Mail on Sunday
fell by 12%.
'The financial report reveals for the first time that the Daily Mail's
Mail+ website with free daily news briefings had reached 120,000 unique visitors a week by September after launching in October 2019. Subscriptions to the Mail's
paid-for digital enhanced edition doubled in 2020 to more than 80,000.'
Press Gazette added that advertising revenue across all the DMGT businesses fell by an underlying 9% to £231 million, including a 26% decline in print advertising which the company put down to both COVID-19 and the existing structural and competitive challenges in the market. Digital advertising accounted for 65% of total advertising.
According to Press Gazette, revenue from the i
tabloid fell by an underlying 10% to £27 million in DMGT's 10 months of ownership due to the circulation and advertising market challenges but, once the Competition and Markets Authority gave the go-ahead, cost savings were made through integration between the i
and its new sister newspaper titles.
The Daily Mail's
Scottish-born star columnist, Jan Moir, has had a real go at Eamonn Holmes and his wife, Ruth Langsford, for their belligerent attitude after being dropped from presenting the Friday episode of ITV's This Morning
programme, which they have fronted since 2006.
Moir wrote: 'A new diversity drive sees them replaced by Alison Hammond and Dermot O'Leary − and they don't seem to be taking it too well. Eamonn is reportedly "furious and upset" − so what's new? Meanwhile, in a recent interview, Ruth seemed to disparage younger presenters who lack experience. "We've put the work in. We didn't do a reality show and get an overnight job on the telly," she said, adding that her hubby even "got an OBE for services to broadcasting"'.
Moir then really puts the boot in, railing: 'When are BBC women, television presenters and sundry sacked stars going to realise that jobs like theirs are a privilege not an entitlement? And that careers in show business, just like careers in politics, almost always end in tears'.
There are reports that Holmes and Langsford's downfall began when This Morning's
Glaswegian editor, Martin Frizell, clashed with them after he proposed a gift of a Christmas bauble to Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who was being interviewed by the co-presenters in the run-up to last December's General Election. Sturgeon told producers she wanted to present the co-presenters with a tree decoration − a Santa wearing a kilt − during her interview.
Frizell wanted to give the SNP leader a gift in return − a This Morning-
themed bauble ahead of the interview, the last of a series with party leaders. Holmes vetoed the idea − pointing out that giving Sturgeon preferential treatment would break strict impartiality rules in the run-up to the General Election. Sources believe that this minor altercation marked the 'beginning of the end' for Holmes and Langsford on This Morning
, although they were assured they would be offered holiday cover shifts and remain 'part of the This Morning
An amusing contribution on Facebook from Gareth Westwood, relating: 'A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget's Thesaurus
crashed yesterday losing its entire load. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, shocked, rattled, paralysed, dazed, bewildered, mixed up, surprised, awed, dumbfounded, nonplussed, flabbergasted, astounded, amazed, confounded, astonished, overwhelmed, horrified, numbed, speechless, perplexed, fazed, disconcerted, perturbed, disturbed and breathtaken'.
FB reader Alan MacDermid asks: 'Is this the word with the most alternatives listed in Roget
? If not, what? How about "drunk"?'
Still on words, the Collins Dictionary
has shown restraint in naming its Word of the Year 2020, choosing 'lockdown'. It defines it as 'the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces'. Helen Newstead, of Collins, explains: 'Lockdown is not a word of the year to celebrate but it is, perhaps, one that sums up the year for most of the world'.
Other words on the 10-strong list include furlough, key worker, self-isolate, social distancing, coronavirus, BLM and Megxit.
An interesting little vignette from Sarah Vine in her Mail on Sunday
column: 'According to a survey, my husband is Britain's least sexy male politician, earning 23% of the vote. Second on the list was Matt Hancock (20%). Still, every cloud. The poll was conducted among users of adultery site, Illicit Encounters. So that's one less thing to worry about'.
Her hubby is, of course, the Tory Government's Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove. Gove was one of my graduate trainees on the Press and Journal,
although his stay was so short-lived before joining a National Union of Journalists (NUJ) strike at Aberdeen Journals that I was unable to assess his success rate with the ladies. However, he was a polite and personable young Oxford University graduate with a promising career in prospect whom I am sure would have been a hit with Aberdeen's fetching young maidens given time. So what's changed, Sarah? Too much Cummings and goings?