Times Newspapers: Culture Secretary ‘Minded To Accept’ News UK Changes

Jeremy Wright has cited the Cairncross report’s assessment of the news media marketplace and the pressure on print circulations when stating today that he is “minded to accept” News UK’s application to vary conditions relating to The Times and The Sunday Times.

In a written Ministerial statement, the Culture Secretary said that he concluded that there had “been a material change in circumstances since 1981” when conditions relating to the publisher’s ownership of the titles were put in place by the Government.

The changes proposed by News UK, which the Mr Wright said he was minded to accept, would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor.

He added: “However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I have noted that the existing governance arrangements – agreed in 1981 – lack clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Before agreeing the application I am therefore of the view that these arrangements need to be suitably updated and enhanced to better reflect current corporate best practice.”

In a letter from DCMS to News UK, officials said: “The Secretary of State looked at a variety of data on newspaper consumption trends. He noted the conclusions of Dame Frances Cairncross’s Report into Press Sustainability and in particular her observation that “the news publishing business is undergoing an extraordinary period of contraction in both its traditional sources of revenue: advertising and circulation” .

“He also noted Dame Frances’s conclusion that the continuing decline in traditional print revenues is only going to continue as print sales decline further.  Having considered News UK’s application, the representations received and other relevant information on the UK Newspaper market and reports on future trends, the Secretary of State has concluded that there has been a significant change to market conditions in terms of the consumption of newspapers since 1981.”