There has been a series of consolidations among the major regional publishers during the past year and these have dramatically altered the face of the local press. The top 10 players in the industry now own 83% of regional titles. The following are ranked in order, based on total weekly circulation figures supplied by the Newspaper Society.
TrinityMirror: (165 titles) – created when regional group Trinity merged last August in a £1.5 billion deal with national newspaper publisher Mirror Group. This prompted the sale of the Belfast Telegraph, one of the largest regional evening papers in the UK, bought by Ireland’s Independent Media.
Northcliffe Newspapers: (65 titles) – one of the few original regional publishing majors remaining. Part of the Daily Mail and General Trust, it publishes the Evening Standard. Bought Bristol United Press for £121.5 million in November.
Newsquest: (130 titles) – bought last September for £904 million by the American newspaper publisher Gannett, which has also spent billions of dollars buying into the regional press in the US. Newsquest executive chairman Jim Brown says both moves are evidence of the increasing strength of local papers.
Johnston Press: (168 titles) – having expanded in recent years, notably through acquiring Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers for £266 million last year, it now enjoys a weekly circulation of more than four million. However, analysts still see it as a likely target for a future buyout by one of the bigger fish.
Associated Newspapers: (four titles) – as the general management company of the Daily Mail and General Trust, it is associated with Northcliffe Newspapers.
Regional Independent Media: (34 titles) – likely to be the next takeover target. It has been valued at £650 million, a figure dismissed as extortionate by many in the industry although it is testimony to the new-found confidence of regional publishers. TrinityMirror has walked away from the bidding, but Gannett and Johnston Press are still interested.
Guardian Media Group: Its primary concerns are the nationals The Guardian and The Observer, but it publishes about 37 regional titles.
Newscom: (61 titles) – recently purchased by Gannett UK.
Eastern Counties Newspapers: (52 titles).
Southnews: (52 titles).