Trinity Mirror gets boost from 'NOTW' but profit slumps

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The Independent Online

Newspaper group Trinity Mirror's profits fell 65 per cent in the first half of 2011, though it said it had subsequently seen a circulation boost from the closure of the News of the World.

The company – which owns more than 100 regional newspapers, as well as its flagship Daily and Sunday Mirror titles – saw overall revenues drop by 2.9 per cent to £371m, while profits slumped from £84.8m to £28.9m.

Trinity Mirror said the group'snational newspaper circulation figures rose by 4 per cent in July, after Rupert Murdoch's attempt to head off the hacking scandal prompted the shock closure of the News of the World.

"In July, we undertook a range of publishing and marketing activities to maximise our share of the Sunday newspaper market," it said.

"The early results of this activity are highly encouraging with an increase in both volume and revenue of each of our six Sunday newspaper titles, and particularly so for our three national titles."

However, overall circulation revenues dropped by 5.4 per cent over the six-month period as a whole. And strained advertising revenues further illustrated the challenges facing the newspaper market. Trinity Mirroradvertising revenues were down by 11.1 per cent compared with the first half of the previous year, although thecompany stressed it is maintaining its share of the market.

The hit from government spending cuts was particularly marked, according to the company. Public sectoradvertising across the group hascollapsed by nearly a quarter, "while the wider implications of the cuts are being felt across all advertising categories," Trinity Mirror said.

The company pointed to "decisive" action by its management team, led by chief executive Sly Bailey, which it says has "limited the fall in operating profits" in a difficult market.

The group's costs are already down by more than £10m, and in the face of continuing cyclical and structural challenges to the publishing industry, it is increasing its cost-saving target for the year by £10m to £25m.

"While the economic environment remains difficult we have undertaken a series of actions to limit the impact on operating profit," Ms Bailey said.

Hacking claims rejected

*While Trinity Mirror's titles have benefited from the demise of the News of the World, there have been attempts to drag the company into the phone-hacking scandal. MPs have called for the former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, to answer questions about claims he listened to phone messages from Sir Paul McCartney to Heather Mills.

Yesterday, however, Ms Bailey rejected "completely unsubstantiated" allegations against the company. She said Trinity now had written guarantees from senior editorial executives that they had never engaged in hacking or other illicit practices. However, the process has not involved formerexecutives such as Mr Morgan.

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