Stephen Glover: A decline in ads that's put the heat back on

Media Studies: If the advertising downturn goes on for long I fear some newspapers are in for a further battering

If strong newspaper advertising is proof of a buoyant economy, George Osborne should be tossing and turning at night. For all newspapers 2010 was a year of recovering advertising revenues. Now there is clear evidence of a downturn in the first half of this year which is affecting even the strongest titles.

Last week Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) referred to "volatile and uncertain market conditions" in unveiling its six-monthly figures. Northcliffe Media, a division of DMGT which owns more than 100 regional titles, experienced a fall in advertising revenue of nine per cent year-on-year for the six-month period. Associated Newspapers, a DMGT division that includes the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and Metro, reported a more modest five per cent year-on-year decline in advertising revenues for April and the first three weeks of May, though over the year, largely thanks to Metro and an ever growing Mail Online, advertising was up two per cent.

If a powerful company such as Associated is feeling the heat a little, weaker groups are feeling it more. A couple of weeks ago, Trinity Mirror, which owns the Mirror titles and a string of regional newspapers, reported a 10 per cent fall in advertising in the year to May, and warned of a fragile economic environment. Fellow regional publisher Johnson Press disclosed similar figures. ITV also recently warned of a sharp drop in advertising revenue. Almost everywhere the picture seems to be the same, with regional titles suffering worse than national ones.

The state of advertising is traditionally seen as a lead indicator of the economy. To judge by present advertising trends, Ed Balls's pessimistic forecasts may rest on surer foundations than Mr Osborne's optimism. Advertisers, particularly retailers, are trimming their budgets because they fear they are entering choppy waters, though last week's improved profit figures from Marks & Spencer bucked the trend. The upshot is that some publishers, who are already absorbing a sharp increase in newsprint prices this year, and are in any case experiencing continuing circulation decline, will come under renewed pressure.

Most titles have already cut their costs significantly. Some editors are likely to be told by managements to restart this process – indeed, there are rumours that there are going to be further economies at The Times. We can't know how long the advertising downturn will persist – let's pray that autumn brings a recovery – but if it goes on for long I fear some newspapers are in for a further battering.



How does Boris get away with it?



Last week I bumped into my old colleague Boris Johnson at a farewell dinner for The Daily Telegraph's great political cartoonist Nicholas Garland, who has inexplicably been let go by the paper, admittedly at the age of 75. Despite one or two perhaps rather harsh things I have written about him, Boris greeted me with me his natural good humour. He really is a most engaging fellow.

Still, he would not expect me to pull my punches. I continue to be amazed that, alone among leading politicians in power, he has a weekly column in a national newspaper. How does he get away with it? Sometimes he uses his Daily Telegraph platform to urge the Government into another course of action, for example by suggesting there should be tougher strike laws. At other times he reminds us what a huge success he has been as Mayor of London. There is a mayoral election next year, after all.

In a column last week about Ken Clarke's penal policy, Boris gave us a lengthy account of his own triumphs. According to him, crime is "well down" in London, with robbery on buses almost halved, and the murder rate at the lowest level in the capital since 1979. He boasted about the success of the Heron unit in Fulham under his watch "where 18 to 24-year-olds are given the help and education they need to avoid becoming repeat offenders".

Well done, Boris. I mean it. But why should only he be allowed to recite his political successes in a national newspaper? In a spirit of even-handedness the Telegraph should give Ken Livingstone, his challenger next year, a rival spot.







Don't ignore threat to press freedom



The Guardian is extremely exercised about the News of the World's phone hacking antics but it can't get at all worked up about "gagging orders". In a recent leader it judged Britain's libel laws a far more serious problem, and pointed out that very few super- injunctions are now being granted. The paper appears to think that gagging orders are necessary to curb the wilder excesses of the tabloids with their devotion to "kiss and tell" stories.

In fact, as The Independent brilliantly revealed last week, at least 333 privacy or gagging orders have been issued by judges over the past five years. This is a frighteningly large number. The majority of them were granted in the family courts, and are not about kiss and tell. Outside the family courts, several such orders concern allegations made against banks or companies, while others have to do with matters that apparently have nothing to do with the sexual shenanigans of footballers or actors.

One can understand that the high-minded Guardian should be appalled by some newspapers' interest in celebrities who betray their spouses. But it would be a pity if its hatred of the tabloids blinded it to the threat to a free Press represented by judges dishing out hundreds of secret gagging orders.

s.glover@independent.co.uk

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
fashion

British supermodel and hitmaker join forces to launch a 'huge song'

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually a challenging and nuanced title

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
News
people
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Programmatic Business Development Manager

£35 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: As the Programmatic Business Develo...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Trainee Recruitment C...

European Retail Sales Manager, Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: My client is looking for an...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past