Tribune in talks with potential new owners

Left-wing weekly the Tribune is in formal negotiations with potential new owners following the current trade union owners’ announcement that the title would be sold or closed by the end of October.

Tribune is owned by a consortium of trade unions including Aslef and Unison, who took over the title in 2004.

The future of the title has been in question since earlier this month when editor Chris McLaughlin revealed that he had failed to secure extra investment from the owners which he said he needed for the title to develop.

McLaughlin said that discussions have now begun with possible new owners, and that a decision should be made next week.

The current owners have extended the initial deadline of 31 October till Christmas, meaning the title will continue to be published whilst negotiations are going on.

According to McLaughlin the title has a circulation of around 5,000, which is a 30 per cent increase over the last three years.

McLaughlin told Press Gazette that the current owners have decided to discharge historical debt and existing commercial liabilities. ‘This means we start with a clean sheet. What we need is a promotional budget to continue the growth that we put on in the last three years,” he said.

‘This all came about because having turned the finances and circulation around in the last three years I thought it would be time to build on that strength and put some promotional investment on the table, but the unions disagreed with that. The bidders that we are in negotiating with now understand the need for that.

McLaughlin added that under new owners the title will be working on a two-year plan to break even.

The magazine has reported that readers gave given a strong response to McLaughlin’s appeal to test support for a co-operative based on individual contributors. And McLaughlin had held preliminary talks with the Co-op on the setting up of a Tribune co-operative.

However, he said he has now realised there is not enough time to pursue this option so a sale remains the only way out for the mag.

Tribune was founded 1937 and former editors of the title include George Orwell and Michael Foot.

It currently employs three full-time journalists and one part-time.

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