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Newspaper publishers warn coronavirus will hit circulation and ad revenues

By Henry Saker-Clark, PA City Reporter

The publishers of the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror have both warned they expect financial hits from the coronavirus pandemic, as advertising and other revenues weaken.

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) said it has seen the health crisis particularly impact its events and consumer media businesses in recent days.

The publisher, which also produces the Metro newspaper, suspended its outlook as it warned that trading for 2020 would be worse than current forecasts.

The company also reported a 3% fall in revenue in the five months to February 29.

DMGT said it expects advertising revenue in its consumer media unit to be lower than previously expected, especially in print, due to the outbreak.

It also predicted a fall in circulation, with customers less likely to buy newspapers during the Government enforced lockdown.

DMGT chief executive Paul Zwillenberg said: “From a financial perspective, trading for the first five months of the financial year was in line with our expectations, but the impact of Covid-19 is likely to affect our business adversely.

“I am confident, however, that the group’s diversified portfolio and strong financial position, with more than £700m of cash and bank facilities available, will enable us to withstand a sustained period of global economic uncertainty and continue to invest through the cycle.”

Daily Mirror publisher Reach also warned that advertising revenues and circulation would fall due to the pandemic.

It said it had traded in line with expectations for the first 12 weeks of the financial year but added it is too early to asses the impact of the virus over the rest of the year.

In a statement, Reach said: “Currently, the principal trading areas expected to be impacted are advertising, print circulation and events.

“Advertising revenue deferrals may be expected given its discretionary nature, print circulation will be impacted by footfall reductions and closures of outlets and events delays or cancellation may be necessary.”

Earlier this week, the Financial Times reported that regional newspaper publisher JPI Media will temporarily stop printing a dozen titles following a major slump in advertising.

Elsewhere, Scottish media firm STV said it would suspend its final dividend payout and will cut costs in order to preserve cash.