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Media group looking to offload assets

Scotland on Sunday on JP’s ‘sub-core’ list

Scotland on Sunday scotsmanScotland on Sunday is among a list of 59 titles which owner Johnston Press has identified as “sub-core”.

The list comes just a day after the company said it was looking to offload assets.

An email sent to staff at the company is said to have listed various papers as “uber” importance, “primary”, “core” and “sub- core”.

Those in the latter group include the daily Wigan Evening Post, Edinburgh-based Scotland on Sunday and more than a dozen other Scottish titles.

According to trade publication Press Gazette, the email says: “This group makes up a third of our news brands and delivers very low levels of contribution, some brands in this group do not break even.

“We intend to review these first and will look to establish new innovative models to enable us to improve the levels of return from this group.

“It is critical that our resources are used to the maximum effect and we will be working speedily to establish an effective publishing model for these brands.”

It is understood that being categorised as “sub-core” does not automatically mean a title is up for sale.

The “uber” importance titles include the Yorkshire Post, The Scotsman, Yorkshire Evening Post, Edinburgh Evening News, Portsmouth News, Lancashire Evening Post, The Star (Sheffield) and the News Letter in Northern Ireland. This suggests they will be ring-fenced in any disposal strategy.

In a trading update yesterday, Johnston Press, formerly based in Edinburgh and now headquartered in London, said a number of brands have been identified that are not part of its long-term future.

It said they “fall outside its selected markets, or do not match the audience focus, or do not offer the levels of digital growth sought by the group.” The company said it is exploring the sale of these assets to “identified parties”.

The email sent to staff claims the “media reaction has greatly exaggerated our intentions”.

It adds: “To be crystal clear: if we do decide to undertake a small number of asset sales, the four groupings of Uber, Primary, Core and Sub-Core have no bearing on those decisions. We would not, for example, ever look to sell a whole category.”

Scotland on Sunday was launched in 1988 and at its peak sold more than 100,000 copies. It now has few dedicated staff which are shared with The Scotsman.

The sub-core group: Diss Express, East Fife Mail, Galloway Gazette, Glasgow Sth & Eastwood Extra, Hemel Hempstead Express, Midlothian Advertiser, Rutland Times, Alfreton Chad, Arbroath Herald, Belper News, Beverley Guardian, Bourne Local, Brighouse Echo, Buchan Observer, Carrick Gazette, Crawley Observer, Deeside Piper, Eastbourne Gazette, Eastwood Advertiser, Ellon Times, Epworth Bells, Fleetwood Weekly News, Fraserburgh Herald, Glenrothes Gazette, Haverhill Echo, Hawick News, Hemsworth & S Elmsall Exp, Hucknall Dispatch, Linlithgow Gazette, Malton & Pickering Mercury, Mearns Leader, Morley Observer & Advertiser, Morpeth Herald, North Yorkshire News, Pocklington Post, Retford Trader & Guardian, Selkirk Weekend Advertiser, South Yorkshire Times, The Buteman, Todmorden News (inc Hebden Bridge News), Visitor, Wharfe Valley Times, Wigan Evening Post (Daily), Image Northampton, Ballymena Times, Ballymoney Times, Banbridge Leader, Belfast Vibe, Hayling Islander, Londonderry Sentinel, Portsmouth View, Scotland on Sunday, Tyrone Times, West Sussex Gazette, Worthing Advertiser, Dirt Bike Rider, South Etc, ACP Weekly (Brechin, Forfar & Montrose) and the Weekend Herald.

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