Mirror sales up after News of The World closure

TRINITY MIRROR says it does not yet know the impact of an editorial review implemented after a phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World but said its sales had benefited from the closure of the rival tabloid.

The British newspaper publisher said group circulation revenues were up 2% in July with national titles up 4%, after a 5.4% decline in group circulation revenues in the first half.

“Following the closure of the News of the World we undertook a range of publishing and marketing activities to maximise our share of the Sunday newspaper market,” the company 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, particularly so for our three national titles,” it said.

But Trinity Mirror said the economic environment was much weaker than it had anticipated, with public sector advertising down 24% in the first half of the year, and the impact of government cuts being felt across all advertising categories.

The publisher of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror announced an extra £10 million (€11.4m) of structural cost cuts, taking its 2011 target to €25m, saying this would help it meet its expectations for the full year.

The News of the World Sunday tabloid, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, shut down in July after the news broke that its journalists had listened to the voicemails of murder victims as well as celebrities.

Trinity Mirror also faces questions about its newsgathering practices, as it prepares to defend itself against claims that it hacked phones to obtain stories.

It has launched a review of its editorial controls and procedures, and said yesterday it was too early to judge the impact that this, or a wider judge-led review of British media, would have on its business.

Lawyer Mark Lewis, who is representing dozens of claimants against the NOTW, including the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, said he would soon launch three or four cases against Trinity Mirror.

Heather Mills, the ex- wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, has claimed that her phone was hacked by a Trinity Mirror journalist, and McCartney has said he plans to talk to police.

Ex-Mirror editor Piers Morgan, now a US chat show host, wrote in a 2006 column that he had listened to one of Mills’s phone messages from McCartney. He has since said repeatedly that he has never hacked a phone or told anyone to do so.

In the first half, Trinity Mirror’s underlying revenue, excluding the contribution from the acquisition of Guardian Media Group’s regional media business, fell 7% to £371 million, in line with market forecasts.

Operating profit fell 24% to £47 million, also in line with expectations.

Advertising revenue fell 11% in the first half.

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