Thursday, 22 January 2009

DMGT says Standard faced closure and blames Murdoch over London free paper war

The Daily Mail & General Trust says the Evening Standard faced closure if it had not sold a majority stake in the paper to Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev.
In a statement in the Standard, DMGT also hits out at Rupert Murdoch for starting the free newspaper war in the capital by launching thelondonpaper.
The statement outlines the decline in the Standard's financial fortunes: "Over recent years, the paper's jobs, cars and property classified advertising - one of the paper's main sources of revenue - started migrating to the internet, readership habits changed, as did the demographics of London, and the Standard started incurring very considerable financial losses. Despite repeated advice from bankers to sell the paper, however, DMGT continued to heavily support it.
"Two years ago, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp launched a free paper called The London Paper in a calculated bid to damage the circulations of the Standard and its own free sister paper, the Lite. To date, The London Paper is thought to have lost News Corp about £40 million.
"It was 18 months ago that Alexander Lebedev first approached Jonathan Harmsworth, the fourth Viscount Rothermere, expressing an interest in the Standard. Lord Rothermere and DMGT were reluctant to sell.
"But, as the recession bit - and all of Britain's newspapers came under bitter financial pressure - it became clear that DMGT couldn't indefinitely provide the investment needed to ensure the Standard's future.
"It also became increasingly apparent that if the Standard failed to secure new capital it faced the very real possibility of closure."

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