Mirror CEO wants digital to make up for print decline but admits: 'we have further to travel'

Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox said the company wants to emulate Guardian News and Media’s achievement in making up for declining print revenue through its digital business.

Speaking to Press Gazette after the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People publisher’s half-year results were published this week, Fox stood by the group’s decision to keep its news content free online.

Trinity Mirror’s websites saw increased traffic in the first half of the year, with a 36.9 per cent rise in monthly unique users compared to the same time last year.

“Publishers are taking different approaches and our approach  is not to have a paywall,” said Fox. “We’ve had real success with that over the last six months but we’ve still got an awfully long way to go.

“What you’re seeing with some of our competitors is very encouraging. Digital revenue is offsetting print decline at the Guardian and DMGT. That is our objective also. We are starting from a smaller base and therefore have further to travel but we have a clear line of sight.”

Fox would not reveal what target date Trinity Mirror had set for balancing print losses with improved digital revenue.

He added: “Stabilising our revenues is a mid-term goal, with growth being a slightly longer term goal.”

GNM’s results for the year to the end of March 2013 showed that its digital revenue increase of 28.9 per cent was outpacing print revenue’s decline.

Trinity Mirror actually saw its digital revenue decline in the first six months of the year, although at a slower rate than print revenue. However, the company reported that digital display advertising was 15.1 per cent up on the previous year.

In its first set of financial results since a round of redundancies resulted in a net loss of 66 jobs from its regional titles in January, Trinity Mirror revealed it had reduced costs by £28.5 million, with £5.8 million saved in labour costs.

But Fox insisted that the cuts had not damaged its journalism.

“I don’t believe that the quality of our news output is deteriorating as a result of the changes we’ve made albeit we are operating in a world of declining circulation and costs are under pressure,” he said.

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