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Publisher of i goes into administration, while Shortlist and Scuzz TV close

By | Published on Monday 19 November 2018

i Newspaper

Newspaper company the Johnston Press – which owns the national title i and regional dailies The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, plus a shed load of local papers – went into administration on Friday. The company has been struggling to service a £200 million debt and had been looking for a buyer since last month.

There had been interest in buying the company outright – or key assets like the i newspaper – but seemingly none of those offers were good enough financially speaking. The plan now is to transfer ownership of the business to a new company controlled by the Johnston Press’s money-lenders.

The company’s CEO David King – who took over after long-time chief Ashley Highfield stepped down in May – said in a memo to staff on Friday: “The newspapers and websites will continue to be published as usual. As I have stressed on several occasions, our business is profitable with good margins. Our debt has constrained us”.

Despite that optimism, it’s no secret that it remains a challenging time to be in the media business, where audiences are increasingly online, but making money through online channels remains very tricky, with Google and Facebook taking the lion’s share of ad income, and subscription models still being worked out.

Elsewhere in ‘the media industry is fucked’ news last week, the publisher of free weekly mens mag Shortlist announced the title was closing its print edition. The magazine shook up the mens mag market when it launched in 2007 by being free and having more short-form and list-based content, reflecting what was becoming popular online. Distributed in various UK cities, it was very successful for a time, but has ultimately been hit by the industry-wide decline in print advertising sales.

When NME announced it was going free and would be distributed in shops, colleges and train stations, some said the music weekly was “doing a Shortlist”. But now Shortlist is “doing an NME”, by shutting down the print version and hoping that the brand can live on as online-only publication. Meanwhile publisher Shortlist Media – a subsidiary of DC Thomson since 2015 – will become Stylist Media, reflecting the fact that its more successful female-focused free weekly Stylist will live on in print form.

Meanwhile, in the world of music media, last week rock and metal focused telly channel Scuzz went off air. Launched by Sky back in 2003, it was taken over by CSC Media Group in 2006, which in turn became a subsidiary of Sony’s TV business in 2014.

Confirming it was turning Scuzz off for good last Thursday, Sony Pictures Television said: “After much consideration, the decision was made to close Scuzz on 15 Nov. We’d like to thank our loyal Scuzz viewers for their support over the years”.