Newsquest’s acquisition of Archant – bad news for local journalism

By Media Reform Coalition / Monday March 28, 2022 Read More

Most local newspapers in the UK are owned by a small handful of companies – and this concentration has just got worse. On March 18, Newsquest announced it was buying out Archant, and will be taking over its 74 local news titles.

In light of these developments, MRC have updated the ownership figures from our 2021 report ‘Who owns the UK media?’ Headline findings are:

  • Newsquest now controls almost a third (30.3%) of the UK’s entire local and regional newspaper market.
  • Four-fifths of the UK’s local and regional newspaper market is controlled by just five companies.
  • The three largest companies – Newsquest, Reach and National World – jointly control almost 70% of all local newspaper circulation. This is a 6.5% increase in market concentration since 2021
  • Newsquest, Reach and National World each holds a greater share of local titles than the smallest 52 local publishers combined
PublisherTitlesShareCumulative share
Newsquest PLC30629.9%29.9%
Reach Plc21120.6%50.5%
National World
Tindle Newspapers Ltd797.7%76.1%
Iliffe Media716.9%83.1%
Remaining 52 publishers17316.9%100.0%

We have been here many times before. This level of ownership concentration not only increases the unaccountable power of media proprietors and shareholders, it also consistently leads to less investment in the public interest local journalism we all need. Consolidations over the past two decades have led to titles closing, journalists being laid off, and the hollowing out of the local outlets that remain – a trend which is now highly likely to play out in Archant’s titles. While the dominant commercial companies have blamed these cost-cutting measures on the loss of advertising income as it has moved online, they have continued to pay out significant shareholder profits and executive salaries. Reach’s top execs were paid over £6 million in 2021, while the company received significant public subsidies.

The DCMS select committee is currently calling for evidence on the sustainability of local journalism. It is imperative they look to new solutions for supporting high quality, accountable and independent local news (such as those proposed in our Manifesto for a People’s Media) rather throwing money at the companies whose actions have exacerbated the current crisis.

The DCMS select committee call for evidence closes at 6 PM on March 31 2022.