Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Manchester Evening News sold in 44m deal

Copies of the Manchester Evening News
The Manchester Evening News is the city's flagship newspaper

The Manchester Evening News (MEN) is being sold by the Guardian Media Group (GMG) as part of a £44.8m deal.

Newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror has bought the historic title as part of a deal for most of the Guardian's regional papers and websites.

But the sale does not include Channel M, the group's television station focusing on Greater Manchester.

A GMG spokeswoman said the deal would help it secure the future of its Guardian newspaper.

In July, GMC Regional Media reported a difficult year and saw its operating profit fall to £500,000 from £14.3m in 2008.

According to its annual report, the steep decline was driven by a 30% fall in classified advertising revenues.

The Manchester Evening News and its sister titles have made a huge contribution to the fortunes of the group for the best part of a century
Carolyn McCall, GMG chief executive

In a statement, GMG chief executive Carolyn McCall said the group's mandate was to "secure the future of the Guardian in perpetuity" and the decision would help to achieve that goal.

The sale of the flagship Manchester newspaper means GMG has now cut most of its ties with its historic home city.

Ms McCall said: "The Manchester Evening News and its sister titles have made a huge contribution to the fortunes of the group for the best part of a century.

"GMG would like to pay tribute to all the staff for their hard work and achievement in a sector dealing with structural change as well as economic downturn."

GMG Regional Media publishes 32 newspapers and websites, including 22 in the North West of England under the MEN media banner.

NUJ concern

Announcing the deal on Tuesday, Trinity Mirror said the acquisition "reinforced" its commitment to regional journalism.

Chief executive Sly Bailey said the acquisition was a further step towards the group's aim of creating a "multi-media business of real scale".

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the move had implications for the future ownership of local media across the UK, a topic it plans to raise with government.

Trinity Mirror already publishes the Liverpool Post and Echo titles, as well as other weekly papers across Cheshire and Merseyside.

"This all raises issues of editorial independence which should be of concern to government and community leaders as well as the media industry," said Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary.

"We are determined that the jobs and conditions of current employees will be fully protected, and we will be seeking urgent discussions with management to establish investment plans for the development of the papers."

Trinity Mirror is the UK's biggest regional publisher and owns national tabloid, The Daily Mirror.

The Manchester Guardian was founded by John Edward Taylor in 1821, but later moved to London and removed the city from its title.

After the move it encountered severe financial problems and during much of the mid 1960s it relied heavily on the profitable Manchester Evening News for support.

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