Russian tycoon buys two ailing British national newspapers for just one pound (2)

09:55, March 26, 2010      

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Lebedev, who is part-owner of an independent newspaper in Russia, last year bought the "London Evening Standard," at the time London's only paid-for evening newspaper.

"The Standard" had been struggling financially against two free- distribution evening newspapers aimed at the large commuter market in London, and found itself under severe strain as the financial crisis took away valuable display advertising for jobs, and the Internet hit its formerly lucrative classified adverts.

The then owner, "the Daily Mail" and General Trust which is owned by Lord Rothermere, sold 75 percent of the Standard to Lebedev in January 2009, for one pound. In the autumn of 2009 the paper became a free distribution paper.

The struggles of the Independent group and of the Standard are just two symptoms of huge changes in the shape of print media in Britain, wrought by the global financial crisis and the rise of the Internet.

For example, on a national level only one daily newspaper, "The Star," saw its circulation rise over the past year, while newspapers like "The Times" saw a decline of nearly 17 percent.

This kind of decline has had quick and dire consequences. Over the past year, Trinity Mirror, a publisher of national and regional titles, has closed 30 papers and laid off 1,700 workers.

In regional newspapers, the decline has been harsh and cutbacks hard too. The only daily newspaper left in England's second city is "The Birmingham Mail," which ended evening printing last year and jumped into the morning slot of its stablemate "The Birmingham Post" which is now a weekly.

In the major city of Manchester, in the north of England, the once-largest selling evening paper in the country, "The Manchester Evening News," has been sold and is being given away on some days, while its stable of weekly newspapers has seen all the regional offices shut to save money.

Source: Xinhua
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