Future for local and regional media - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents


Supplementary written evidence submitted by Trinity Mirror

RESPONSE TO CLLR MARK LOVEDAY'S WRITTEN STATEMENT REGARDING COUNCIL RUN NEWSPAPERS

  In his submission to the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport on the issue of council newspapers, the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council made various statements about Trinity Mirror plc and the newspaper market in the council's area which we do not believe can rest unchallenged.

  In his written statement, Cllr Mark Loveday when commenting on our titles said that: "Trinity Mirror does not invest in these publications—there is presently one part-time news reporter (based outside the borough) for both titles. The local titles are effectively wraparound editions of out of borough publications with only a few pages of local content."

  That statement is factually incorrect both in terms of our investment and working practices.

  Trinity Mirror employs two Senior Multimedia Journalists, dedicated to the Borough of Fulham and Hammersmith. The two journalists are supported by a full time Multimedia Content Manager and a full time Multimedia Editor News.

  All our multimedia Journalists work remotely. They are equipped with the latest technology that allows them to operate from anywhere within the Borough

A significant number of pages in the titles carry dedicated news from Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherd's Bush only (ie. Fulham Chronicle—4 dedicated pages with more Hammersmith and Fulham news spread throughout the titles. Fulham Gazette—9-10 dedicated pages)

  Cllr Loveday also asserts that "In common with most large unitary authorities, the Council has distributed a regular free publication to residents for a number of years. Its predecessor, "Hfm Magazine" was launched by the then Council leader Cllr Andrew Slaughter (now Andrew Slaughter MP) in January 2004. The Council now produces "H&F News", a high quality fortnightly newspaper which accepts significant local advertising".

  We would argue the point is disingenuous. The predecessor to H&F News, HFm Magazine was a monthly A4 publication communicating with ratepayers solely on council matters and services. H&F News is a bi-weekly tabloid newspaper which continually steps outside its statutory need to communicate solely on council matters by running general local news, crosswords, Sudukos, film reviews, premiere league football reports and regular interviews with celebrities.

  Cllr Loveday claims that the publication of a council owned newspaper "is a highly cost-effective way of communicating with residents. We believe strongly that it is a good thing to raise advertising revenue to reduce the burden on local taxpayers. As a result, the cost of H&F News continues to fall—from £400k in its previous incarnation Hfm magazine to less than £5,000 last year."

  This claim is misleading as (based on the council's own figures, retrieved through a FoI request) it fails to take into account the salaries of 3.5 FTEs (£169,668) dedicated to the production of H&F News. Therefore, H&F News is currently running at loss and rather than reducing the burden on local taxpayers is actually increasing the burden.

  Similarly his claim that "H&F News has high readership[140] and high reader approval[141] because it is a product that residents enjoy (our emphasis) reading." Is equally misleading.

  The council's own research states the following:

    — 81% of readers think H&F News is interesting

    — 71% say contains lots of useful information

    — 69% say it tells them what they need to know about the borough

  * Source: Media and Reputation Survey conducted by Facts International and commissioned on behalf H&F by Westminster City Council, 600 people telephoned in March 2009.

  The research did not look at enjoyment but only at what readers thought about H&F News.

  December 2009







140   63% of residents read H&F News, according to the 2009 Media & Reputation Survey Back

141   81% of readers say H&F News is informative, according to the 2009 Media & Reputation Survey Back


 
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