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Newspaper print ad revenue falls at DC Thomson but newsstand sales holding up 'comparatively well'

Scottish publisher DC Thomson, owner of top-selling UK regional daily the Press and Journal, saw its newspaper print advertising revenues fall 11 per cent year-on-year to £14.6m in 2018.

The company, which also publishes the Sunday Post and the Evening Express titles, reported newspaper sales totalling £34.1m in its accounts for the year ending March 2018, filed with Companies House.

Magazine print sales were at £42.7m for 2018, down 1 per cent on the year before. Magazine ad revenues were also slightly down – by 2 per cent year-on-year – generating £24.8m.

Shortlist Media, which publishes free women’s weekly Stylist and the now-defunct Shortlist, is the largest source of magazine ad revenue for DC Thomson, which bought it in 2015.

Shortlist Media, which has just rebranded as Stylist Group after closing free men’s lifestyle title Shortlist in print, has doubled its pre-tax losses year-on-year to £8.6m in 2018.

DC Thomson increased its total revenue to £207.3m in 2018, up 2.9 per cent year-on-year, with pre-tax profits also climbing to £71.4m, up from £54m on the year before.

Digital revenues were up by 6 per cent, making up about a fifth of total revenues.

In a statement, company director Andrew Thomson said circulation revenues had held up “comparatively well” given the ongoing trend towards free, digital news sources and away from print.

“This is a challenge and the board and our teams are and have been responding with both a drive for greater efficiency and innovation,” he said.

Overall, circulation sales continue to generate nearly double the income made from advertising, at a ratio of 66 per cent to 34 per cent, for the publisher.

Said Thomson: “This ratio gives our business more protection against advertising declines than many publishing businesses and is important in the context of the competition from businesses such as Facebook and Google.”

The company bought specialist magazine publisher Aceville in September 2018, which Thomson said would “add revenue to our media business and synergies with the business will enhance its profitability”.

It also publishes Dundee-based The Courier, magazines including the Beano, the People’s Friend and My Weekly, and an online family history division.

The company also owns data hosting business Brightsolid and gift and lifestyle website Wild and Wolf, which both saw revenues rise in the year to March 2018.

Read DC Thomson’s full 2018 accounts.

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