Mirror owner Reach axes 550 – will we end up with just two mass market publishers in the UK?

The UK’s Daily Mirror newspaper has survived a lot of things – even the noxious Robert Maxwell (whose shade still haunts us via the unlikely route of Buckingham Palace resident Prince Andrew and his pal Ghislaine) – but Covid-19 is proving an existential threat as owner Reach announces 550 redundancies.

It may surprise some that a newspaper group (Reach also owns the Express titles and dozens of local media) still employs so many dispensable people.

The crisis has boosted newspaper registrations (the first step towards online payment) and online subscriptions for some – The New York Times seems to be a big winner – but it’s devastated ad revenue, digital as well as offline.

Reach CEO Jim Mullen says: “Structural change in the media sector has accelerated during the pandemic and this has resulted in increased adoption of our digital products. However, due to reduced advertising demand, we have not seen commensurate increases in digital revenue.”

Mullen was CEO of bookie Ladbrokes Coral until August 2019 and, despite issues in the betting industry, must wish he’d stayed put.

Everybody knows there’ll be a much reduced newspaper industry as the world emerges shakily from lockdown and there’s a possibility that the UK will have just two mass market publishers left standing: the Mail group and News Corp. The shareholders and owners of the other businesses (even the Guardian) would surely sell to them, given the chance. It’s hard to see the Government saying no.

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