Letter: 'Independent' and the deal with MGN

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Independent is a paper of record: may I put the record straight in respect of one passage in Saturday's article 'Enduring values and new strength', about recent events at Newspaper Publishing? You say: 'Faced with an accelerating decline in the circulation of both newspapers and mounting losses, we were confronted with a choice - taking an axe to the editorial budget and hoping for the best or taking decisive action to break out of the vicious circle.' Correctly rejecting the first option, you go on to imply that an association with a British newspaper group was the only alternative.

But such an association need not have involved a major equity stake and board memberships. There was another option, as Patrick Morrissey's (the chief executive) business plan, presented to the board on 21 December, demonstrated. This was to gain the benefits of joint production and distribution without surrendering an equity stake to the provider of the shared facilities. This course would have given us greater managerial independence, and hence greater editorial independence, afforded a keener price for the provision of facilities which would have been at arm's length, and avoided swingeing cuts in editorial budgets - which were never a feature of the business plan.

Regrettably, you and our Spanish and Italian shareholders had already committed yourselves without waiting to consider the other alternatives that offered. The viability of the Morrissey route was confirmed by Dr O'Reilly's willingness to invest after he had reviewed the plan in detail.

However, that is all in the past. I sincerely hope that the new arrangements, which, admittedly, give the Independent papers strong financial backing, will afford a regime in which they once again flourish.

Yours sincerely,

IAN HAY DAVISON

Chairman

Newspaper Publishing Plc

London, EC1

19 March

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