DMG Media, owner of the Mail titles, has pulled out of talks aimed at stemming the tide of declining print advertising revenue by creating a joint commercial operation for the UK national press.
The initiative, known as Project Juno, was launched in summer last year between major news media publishers including News UK, Trinity Mirror and Telegraph Media Group with discussions led by Arena Media UK founder Steve Booth.
In a statement, DMG Media told the Financial Times it had “stepped back” from the latest phase of research on the project to pursue its own “broader commercial priorities” in 2017.
“Although not participating at this time, DMG Media wishes its industry partners well and remains supportive of their ongoing efforts,” a spokesperson added.
But the group said it would stand with UK news publishers in defending press freedom from Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act that would force those not signed up to a state-approved regulator to pay both sides’ legal fees in court cases, win or lose.
A spokesperson for the remaining newspaper groups involved in Project Juno said: “The project companies remain committed to finding greater scale for advertisers through our digital and print channels.
“While we are disappointed that DMG have withdrawn from the next phase of the project, they will be kept abreast of developments should they wish to rejoin at a later date.”