Scotland business

Johnston writes down £200m on titles

Newspaper printing press
Image caption Johnston said the increase in its digital audience more than compensated for a decline in its print audience

The media group Johnston Press has reduced the value of its titles and assets by more than £200m.

However the company said in the first half of this year like-for-like operating profit increased by 4.3% to £28.6m - the first rise for seven years.

Revenues fell by nearly 10% to £144m with advertising down 13.6%.

The company's chief executive said it was "encouraging to see the benefits of our actions starting to come through".

Johnston, which owns The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post newspapers, along with nearly 300 other titles, began a major restructuring last year.

Chief executive Ashley Highfield said: "Johnston Press has continued to make good progress during the first half in the implementation of its strategy for growth, completing the re-launch of its print titles and investing further in technology to build its digital platform whilst maintaining a tight control on costs."

An impairment charge of £194m on its publishing titles and a £58m write-down on print press assets resulted in the group reporting an operating loss of £225m.

Debt was down more than 15.3% compared with June 2012 and stands at £306m, while digital revenues increased 13.3%.

Circulation

The company said the relaunch of its portfolio was now complete and the decline in its circulation revenues was reduced to just 0.7% in the first half.

It added that circulation revenues for titles relaunched during 2013 were showing early signs of improvement.

Johnston said its overall audience increased by almost 100,000 users a month, driven by growth in its web and mobile, with a 16.8% increase in the monthly audience to over 11.8 million unique users.

This increase "more than compensated for the decline in our print audiences".

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