Newspaper entrepreneur Chris Bullivant has accused Trinity Mirror of cutting ad rates to force his free Birmingham weekly out of business.
Bullivant is reported to have written to estate agency advertisers inviting them to a form a consortium to take control and save the Birmingham Free Press.
Launch of the Free Press title in June added to a newspaper war in Birmingham which was created in April when its sister paper – the part paid-for weekly, the Birmingham Press – was launched by Bullivant.
Trinity Mirror rolled out the Birmingham Post Lite – a free, condensed version of its weekly Post title – shortly after the launch of the Press with both targeting the upmarket areas of Moseley, Edgbaston and Harborne in the south of the city with its free distribution.
But both Bullivant and Trinity Mirror rely heavily on more general local estate agent advertising to fund their free titles in the city.
Bullivant told TheBusinessDesk.com that BPM Media – Trinity Mirror’s operation in the West Midlands – was attempting to “remove us from the marketplace” by offering estate agents ads at cut down prices for the free Extra version of its biggest selling paper, the Birmingham Mail.
“We cannot compete with such rates, as they are below the cost of production, and as a small, new business, we cannot continue to sustain the impact that has on our company,” Bullivant told the TheBusinessDesk.com.
A spokesperson for Trinity Mirror told Press Gazette that the company did not engage in anti-competitive practice.