The big 5 local newspaper publishers should disclose how much money they receive from local authorities for publishing public notices? sign now

I’ve just been playing around with some figures from the big 5’s websites and the Newspaper Society. This is part of a wider investigation of public notices http://bit.ly/TFgfB2.

Putting them together gives me, I believe, a very rough guide to how much money each publisher may be receiving for publishing public notices.

Here’s how many local newspapers each publisher owns:

Trinity Mirror: “more than 130 regional daily and weekly newspapers” - source TrinityMirror.com

Northcliffe: “84 newspapers” - source northcliffemedia.co.uk

Archant: “four daily regional newspapers and around 60 weekly titles” - source Archant.co.uk

Newsquest: “more than 200 newspapers” - source newsquest.co.uk

Johnston Press: "13 dailies, 252 weeklies (189 paid-for, 63 free)” - source private email from Johnston Press

The Newspaper Society says “There are 1,100 regional and local newspapers”. So between them, the big 5 own 743 - or 67.5% - of the 1100 local newspapers in the UK.

The figure I have been using throughout my project as the total spend per year from local government on public notices is £67.85m. Divide total spend by the total number of newspapers (£67.85m/1100) gives a figure of £61,681 received by each paper for publishing public notices.

(As a side note, the Somerset County Gazaette is currently recruiting a new reporter. The salary they offer is £16,000. This means that the £61,681 they receive for publishing pubic notices coves the cost of nearly four reporters salaries.)

If you then calculate number of newspapers owned by publisher x average cost each newspapers receives from local authority you end up with rough figure for how much each publisher gets.

It looks like this:

Publisher Titles Titles x pub notices income (£)
Trinty 130 8018530
Northcliffe 84 5181305
Archant 64 3947584
Newsquest 200 12336200
Johnston 265 16345465
Others 357 22020117


Again, these figures are rough and based on averages. A rural council will need to publish fewer public notices than an urban city council. Papers with higher readerships quite rightly can charge higher costs for their advertising space. But in general I think these figures are useful.

To the big 5, so the accuracy of this data can be improved I call on you to share publicly the total amount your newspapers receive for publishing public notices.

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  • 04 October 20121. Rob Dale
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