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Murdoch writes down value of The Sun to zero

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The tabloid suffered big loss

Tabloid newspaper The Sun has seen its value written down to zero and is unlikely to return to growth.

The once-mighty newspaper title suffered a £197 million loss in one of the worst years in its history, according to newly-filed accounts.

Owner Rupert Murdoch has already seen it lose its long-held status as Britain’s top-selling paper to the Daily Mail.

Now his group has booked an £84m impairment charge for The Sun which has written down the value of the title from £112m in 2019 in response to plunging print advertising revenues.

News Group Newspapers posted a deepening £201m pre-tax loss in the year to the end of June 2020 (2019: £67.8m loss). Turnover weakened to £324m from £420m in the previous year, according to accounts filed with Companies House in the UK.

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NGN is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK, which also publishes The Times (accounts filed as Times Newspapers), itself a subsidiary of News Corp, which owns the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones.

NGN said its business had been “impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak and the resulting UK lockdown”, with newsstand sales of The Sun and The Sun on Sunday hit by lower levels of daily commuters.

It recorded £80m in costs relating to the phone-hacking scandal, including £52.3m of fees and damages paid to civil claimants, compared to £27m in 2019.

The company said it has settled, or is in the process of settling, most claims linked to phone-hacking and inappropriate payments to public officials, mostly out of court.

“It is not possible to estimate the liability for such additional claims given the information that is currently available to the company,” News Corp said.

The Sun, which once sold five million copies a day now sells fewer than one million copies a day, although it no longer reports circulation figures through the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

NGN employed 546 editorial staff on average in 2020 compared with 605 in 2019.

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