Media: Lifeline - The Indy

Excellent ad revenue growth has not been enough to make the Independent titles profitable.

1994: Control of Newspaper Publishing, the publisher of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, passes to Mirror Group and the Irish Independent Newspaper Group, controlled by the Heinz-boss-turned-media-tycoon Tony O'Reilly (pictured).

1998: Having lost faith in its ability to turn around performance on the titles, which had been losing money for a decade, the Mirror Group sells complete control to O'Reilly for £30 million. Simon Kelner is appointed editor of the daily title. A former sports journalist and editor of The Mail on Sunday's supplement Night and Day, he becomes The Independent's sixth editor in seven years.

2003: The Independent's sale has dipped below 180,000 (compared with 420,000 a decade earlier). Kelner (pictured) experiments with a split print run, with readers able to choose between a broadsheet and a tabloid version. The tabloid proves popular and sales pick up.

2004: The paper takes the plunge and completes the switch to tabloid format and within months circulation has clawed its way back above the 260,000 level (including bulks). This strong performance prompts Gavin O'Reilly, the chief operating officer of the titles, to predict that The Independent will be profitable by the middle of 2006 as ad revenues begin tracking coverprice sales on an upward curve.

2006: Ivan Fallon, the chief executive of the UK titles, admits that the company has now given up hope of hitting its profitability target. Losses for 2005 were revealed to be £10 million, despite excellent growth on the ad revenue side, where The Independent outperformed its rivals. With the newspaper market in the doldrums, both in circulation and in ad revenue terms, forecasts aren't encouraging either.

Fast forward ...

2009: O'Reilly's determination to keep a toehold in the UK newspaper market pays dividends when, following the break-up of News Corporation as a result of dynastic disputes, he is able to acquire Times Newspapers. Deft cross-promotion and ad sales efforts start to make life extremely uncomfortable at The Guardian and the Telegraph.

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