New digital-focussed Telegraph surprises with £58.9m profits

The Daily Telegraph group made £58.9m profit in 2010, 11 per cent up on 2009, nearly 50 per cent if you strip out one-off sales in 2009 of £13m.

The surprisingly buoyant figure seems to testify more to cost-cutting than any great increase in ad revenue as the Daily and Sunday papers plus The Spectator political magazine brought in £323m in revenue, just two per cent up on the previous year.

The Telegraph policy of integrating its print and digital operations – with journalists rushing off from their keyboards to dash off a quick video – was largely the creation of former editor-in-chief Will Lewis working rather uncomfortably alongside feisty Scottish CEO Murdoch MacLennan (pictured).

Lewis eventually departed a year ago to join News International in a senior role but by then the job, which involved moving to a new all singing and dancing HQ in Victoria, was largely done.

MacLennan and his ultimate bosses David and Frederick Barclay are not the most cuddlesome of bosses even by Fleet Street standards but they appear to have pulled off a minor miracle at what remains ‘the Torygraph.’

Next item on the agenda is to introduce a limited paywall for online content, similar to that of the Financial Times which allows for a relatively generous measure of free browsing before asking readers to pay.

The New York Times is also in the process of introducing a similar model.

This is in stark contrast to News International’s highly restricted policy and, at the other end of the spectrum, the Guardian’s wholly free service.

If recent experience is any guide the Telegraph will probably get it right.

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