Sir Frank Rogers - Former deputy chairman of the Telegraph Group

Sir
Frank Rogers, deputy chairman of the Telegraph Group and an elder
statesman of the British newspaper industry, has died at the age of 85.

Rogers
was appointed to the Telegraph board in November 1985, at the
instigation of Conrad Black, the former proprietor, who had recently
acquired a stake in the company. Rogers became deputy chairman when
Black completed the coup that enabled him to take complete control.
Black was able to rely on Rogers’ encyclopaedic knowledge of the
workings of Fleet Street, built up over 40 years as a manager of
newspaper operations and as a negotiator for the industry.

Rogers
came to prominence in the early 1960s as production and personnel
director of the Daily Mirror. He succeeded in halving the paper’s
production and machine-room personnel and went on to become managing
director, first of the Mirror and then of its parent company, IPC.

In
1968, he was involved in the ousting of Cecil King, IPC’s autocratic
chairman, who had developed a fierce antipathy towards prime minister
Harold Wilson. In May 1968, King published, on the front page of the
Mirror, an attack headlined “Enough is Enough”, declaring that Britain
needed a new prime minister and that the country was “threatened with
the greatest financial crisis in our history”.

Three weeks later,
a letter from his fellow board members was delivered to King while he
was shaving, asking him to resign. Rogers had been in Japan during much
of the plotting, but took part in the meeting with King and the deputy
chairman Hugh Cudlipp, at which King refused to resign, forcing the
board to dismiss him. The ambitious Cudlipp succeeded, though it was
noted by some commentators that IPC’s shareholders might have preferred
the more businesslike Rogers.

Frank Jarvis Rogers was born on 24
February 1920 and educated at Wolstanton Grammar School. He joined the
Daily Mirror as a junior reporter in Manchester in 1937, writing for
the sports pages.

After war service, he returned to International
Publishing Company (IPC) and moved into management: he was general
manager of the Nigerian Daily Times from 1949 to 1952, and of the
Melbourne Argus until 1955.

By then Rogers had caught the eye of
King, who brought him back to London to be his personal assistant and
promoted him to managing director of IPC’s overseas newspaper interests
in 1958.

In 1970, following the reverse takeover of IPC by the
Reed paper group, Rogers was one of a number of senior IPC executives
to resign. His departure was thought to be partly the result of the
failure of the short-lived Mirror Magazine.

His next job was to
conduct a review of pay structures on behalf of the National Newspaper
Steering Group, a joint body established by the Newspaper Publishers’
Association (NPA) and the print unions after a national newspaper
strike in June 1970.

His appointment was a tribute to the respect
he commanded on both sides of the industry, but there was little he
could do to head off a series of damaging disputes, particularly after
the National Graphical Association withdrew from the steering group. In
Rogers’ own estimation, the mission was a failure.

Nevertheless,
he became director of the NPA. But in 1973 he resigned to take up a
more congenial appointment as chairman of the East Midland Allied Press
(later Emap), publisher of the Peterborough Evening Telegraph. Over the
next 16 years it became one of Britain’s most dynamic publishing
groups. Under Rogers, profits grew from £935,000 to £33.6m; he retired
in 1989.

In 1990, he became chairman of the NPA, where he spoke
out in favour of press freedom within a responsible framework of
voluntary restraint. In 1991 he founded the European Publishers’
Council, a pressure group representing 27 newspaper and magazine groups
opposed to EU intrusion in the media sector.

Rogers was knighted in 1988.

He married, in 1949, Esma Holland, with whom he had two daughters. Esma died in 1998, and in 2001, he married Sheena Phillips.

This obituary originally appeared in The Daily Telegraph

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