Johnston Press records £300m loss due to newspaper writedown and falling ad revenue

Shruti Tripathi Chopra
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Dwindling Newspaper Sales Echo Through Economy
Johnston Press publishes around 200 regional and local newspapers (Source: Getty)

Johnston Press, the publisher behind the i newspaper, the Scotsman and the Yorkshire Evening Post, has reported a £300m pre-tax loss in 2016.

The publisher blamed the loss on writing down the value of its 200-plus local newspapers and the decrease in advertising spend.

The figures

Overall revenues declined by eight per cent to £222m for the 12 months to the end of December 2016 while total advertising revenue fell by 17.5 per cent excluding the i newspaper.

The publisher recorded an impairment charge of £344m on its publishing and print assets which included a £223.9m writedown reported last August and another charge of £120.4m booked at the year-end.

At the time of writing, shares were down 10.23 per cent at 22p.

Why it's interesting

The i newspaper, which Johnston Press acquired from media baron Evgeny Lebedev in April last year, managed to make £3.3m in profits in the eight months to the end of last year on revenues of £18.5m.

The i newspaper's sales volumes increased five per cent year-on-year and Q4 circulation revenues were up 20 per cent year-on-year.

Read more: Activist investor takes swipe at Johnston Press chief executive

What did Johnston Press say

Ashley Highfield, chief executive officer, said:

“While we can expect to see continued pressure on traditional print revenue streams, we have seen digital return to growth in Q1 2017, with better margin products, and will see growth from our investment in the i from both the newspaper and website. Further, we will start to see the benefits of our restructured sales teams and product roll out.

Amid ever growing concerns from advertisers, both big and small, about the placement of their brand alongside unacceptable content, and increasing uncertainty around fake news, we believe our strategic focus on providing readers and advertisers alike with news platforms that serve as a trusted source of truth and insight, put together by teams of professional reporters who know their communities, is becoming an ever more important USP. By combining digital innovation with real news value, we will continue to see further growth in monetisable audiences.”

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