There can be only one: Highland newspapers merge as rival publishers strike deal

The Oban Times

Rival publishers have struck a deal to merge two weekly newspapers covering the Scottish Highlands into one title, saying “technological and economic changes” in the region were behind the merger.

The Lochaber News, owned by Scottish Provincial Press (SSP), and Oban Times, published by Wyvex Media both cover Lochaber, a large rural part of the Scottish west Highlands region of Scotland.

But from next month the News will fold and become part of a new northern edition of the Times, which will carry the words “incorporating the Lochaber News” on its masthead.

Included in the deal is the sale of the monthly Lochaber Life magazine to Wyvex, which is due to move to a high street office in Fort William, the region’s main town which is close to Ben Nevis.

Lochaber News
Lochaber News

In a joint statement, the publishers said: “Technological and economic changes have meant that Lochaber has increasingly found it difficult to sustain two local newspapers and both parties have been engaged in positive and constructive talks to ensure that a strong local publishing presence remains a vital part of the community.

“Both companies agree that Wyvex’ closer geographical ties and strength in the market make it the sensible choice to continue to provide local news and services to the people of Lochaber.

“As an indication of this commitment Wyvex has recently strengthened both its editorial and commercial presence in Lochaber.”

The SSP owns 14 weekly titles across Scotland, including the Highland News and the Inverness Courier.

Alister Bennet, managing director of Wyvex Media and Thelma Henderson, managing director of Scottish Provincial Press jointly added: “This agreement ensures a bright, sustainable publishing future for Lochaber and importantly will deliver even better news coverage and value for readers and advertisers alike.”

The final edition of the Lochaber News will be published on 29 September. It sells an average of 2,101 copies at £1, according to the latest ABC figures.

The Oban Times sells an average of 11,769 copies at 80p, ABC figures show. The first issue incorporating the Lochaber News will be out on 6 October.

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