Rusbridger rewarded as newspapers show £50m losses

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has been awarded a lucrative and discretionary annual bonus for the second successive year — despite substantial annual losses at Guardian Newspapers.

The Guardian and The Observer lost £49.9m in the year to April. But the remuneration committee, headed by company chairman Paul Myners, decided to give Rusbridger an extra £175,000 "in recognition of his leading role in the successful launch of the new format Guardian and Observer newspapers".

When the £80m cost of Berliner size presses and other exceptional items are removed from the accounts for the last financial year, The Guardian and The Observer made a combined loss of £19.3m on turnover of £237.4m.

In 2004/2005, Rusbridger received a £150,000 bonus, his first as editor, again in recognition for his work on the Berliner.

Last year The Guardian and The Observer made pre-tax losses of £48.3m — figures also affected by the cost of repressing.

Rusbridger, 52, has been editor of The Guardian since 1995, became a member of the Scott Trust, which owns the paper, in 1997, and has been a member of the Guardian Media Group board since 1999.

According to the GMG annual report, the Berliner relaunches of The Guardian and The Observer have boosted advertising revenue and compensated for "difficult pre-launch trading conditions".

Guardian headline sales are said to be up by an average of 23,000 per month, in the six months after the September Berliner relaunch, at just over 380,000.

Observer sales were an average of 40,000 a month higher in the first five months after its January relaunch, and currently stand at 470,000.

Ad revenue for the website Guardian Unlimited is said by GMG to have risen by 50 per cent in the year to April.

Overall, ad revenue was down 2.7 per cent year on year for Guardian Newspapers.

Rusbridger's basic salary increased to £312,000 (plus extra benefits worth £17,000) compared with a basic salary in 2004 of £272,000.

He opted for his bonus to be paid straight into his pension pot, which was also topped up by a further £134,000 employer's contribution.

GMG chief executive Sir Robert Phyllis received total remuneration of £721,000.

Overall GMG reported turnover of £700.3m, down from £705m last year, and made operating profit of £116.4m, compared with £127.2m.

The heavy losses of the national titles were offset by the Trader Media division, which includes Auto Trader magazine and various popular web offshoots, which reported operating profit up 2.8 per cent to £119.5m on turnover up 0.5 per cent to £303.3m.

The report revealed that GMG plans to sell a minority stake in this division.

Profit for the 40-title regional newspapers division was down to £21.6m (compared with £34.4m in 2005) on turnover down 7 per cent to £126.8m.

This was said to reflect "a static advertising market coupled with a defection of readers and advertisers to the internet".

Manchester local TV station Channel M was identified as the "major area for development" in this division.

The station is said to have recruited 60 new staff and revenues are "growing steadily" with an 18-hour daily schedule of programmes.

GMG Radio, which includes Real Radio, made operating profit of £2.7m on turnover up 13.9 per cent to £27.9m.

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