Media: Perspective - Trinity Mirror makes right noises but the salerumours go on

You've got to feel sorry for media owners, haven't you? First MindShare puts the Daily Mail's nuts in a vice and pulls some major clients out of the paper, then Trinity Mirror, announcing its interim results last week, finds its national display ad revenues have fallen despite its investment in "revitalising titles".

TV and radio ad departments have also been feeling the pinch, while - apparently - agencies have been making hay. Last week's interim figures from Publicis Groupe and Omnicom both made attractive reading for shareholders, especially those of the French holding company. Clearly, this is to over-simplify things - many agencies have also felt the pinch and are delivering results to shareholders by tightening belts and driving staff even harder.

So maybe the likes of Trinity Mirror haven't got it so bad after all, especially when profits across the group are up 14 per cent to £113 million.

It seems it is turning the same tricks as agency groups - cutting costs to deliver results to shareholders. Despite the fall in national ad revenues and comments from its chief executive, Sly Bailey, that "it is a difficult environment", its national division still managed to increase its profits by 6 per cent after "tight cost management".

The danger in this scenario is that quality will suffer. It is arguable, for instance, that the Daily Mirror is no longer the paper it was. However, Trinity Mirror should be applauded for stating that it will not become embroiled in yet another red-top price war, especially given that its fingers were burned so badly last time it chose to take on The Sun.

Bailey's comments that it will not go out "and buy circulation" at least sends out the message that Mirror Group's management feels confident in its products. Agencies tend to like this. Many press directors already feel newspaper cover prices undervalue the products and that price alone is not responsible for the general downturn in circulation.

And the Daily Mirror's 35p cover price has helped Mirror Group Newspapers increase circulation revenues despite the difficult market and repeated falls in circulation at its titles. But, clearly, the big concern the Mirror Group's parent company, Trinity Mirror, faces is strategic. Does it sell its now-profitable but seemingly hard-to-run national division or stay committed to its regional and national businesses?

It's sending out reassuring messages - an £83 million investment in printing presses will bring full colour to its national titles. But, equally, this could be seen as future-proofing the business ahead of any potential sale. Once again, reports are circulating that the former Mirror boss David Montgomery will bid for the national titles. The weak national newspaper ad market, piling pressure on Mirror Group's bottom line, will only encourage rumours of a sale.