That’s a bit of a shocker. The Guardian Media Group is in talks with Trinity Mirror about selling the Manchester Evening News and ending its 200-year association with Manchester.
According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, GMG is considering the sale of GMG Regional Media. The group’s flagship title is the Manchester Evening News and way back when was the sister paper to what was the Manchester Guardian before it changed its name in 1959.
GMG’s regional arm also owns the manchestereveningnews.co.uk website, city TV station Channel M, the free daily Metro in the city and a number of other regional papers in the south including the Surrey Advertiser and Reading Post.
Earlier this year GMG closed two weekly papers; switched the daily Reading Evening Post to a weekly (called the Reading Post); and axed close to 250 jobs across its regional operation (Surrey and Manchester). It also closed offices in Esher and Wokingham, as well as its two offices in Aldershot.
The sale is another part of GMG’s efforts to secure the future of The Guardian newspaper in a year of heavy losses. Guardian News & Media reported operating losses increased from £26.4m to £36.8m in the year to the end of March 2009 as turnover fell to £253.6m (down from £261.9m). Guardian Media Group reported pre-tax losses of nearly £90m.
The Telegraph says that the group could go for as little as £40m, which seems low for the entire group even with the collapse in advertising – but it is a shrinking asset.
Daily Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror already prints the Manchester Evening News and the Manchester Metro News and so is a natural buyer to hold talks with.
The sale would also amount to a consolidation of GMG’s business allowing it to focus its future efforts on providing national news: on and offline – paid and free.
In this fast changing market with so many titles being closed or sold off there isn’t much place for sentiment. The Observer could have been another casualty after it was threatened with closure earlier this year, but luckily it escape that fate and in the end was pared back.