Tuesday 9 December 2008

Supposing the Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman were for sale

A well connected media watcher told me over lunch yesterday that he believed Johnston Press would be prepared to sell its flagship titles, the Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman, even though the company has consistently denied that they are on the market.
But who would buy them? There has been some talk of regional newspapers returning to local ownership rather than having the domination of the big four regional publishers, Trinity, Johnston, Northcliffe and Newsquest.
The Yorkshire Post was at one time owned by Regional Independent Media, headed by Chris Oakley, a former deputy editor of the paper who made his fortune by leading the £125 million buy-out of the Birmingham Post & Mail in 1991. Those were heady days with journalists showing they could manage newspaper businesses and make themselves wealthy out of the regional press. There were also venture capitalists prepared to back them. RIM sold out to Johnston for £560 million in 2002.
I bumped into Chris Oakley, who is now based in Brussels, at the Society of Editors' conference in Bristol last month and asked him if he would consider buying any newspapers in the UK. He replied that he was looking at buying newspapers...in Croatia.

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