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Johnston profits up despite “extremely difficult” local news market


Johnston Press has released its half year figures this morning, showing its operating profit has risen to £7.4m, compared to £4.9m the previous year.

It’s mainly down to the strong performance of its i newspaper, which saw a 61% increase in adjusted EBITDA year-on-year.

However, its advertising revenues have declined by 15%, and classified ads are down 28.5% from 2017.

Newspaper sales income has dropped by 1.7% (£38.9m), with price rises off-setting a fall in overall circulation.

Online, its digital audiences grew to a record 27.3m average unique users per month. Even so, digital advertising revenues fell by 7.4%, which it said is due to the effects of algorithm and news feed changes by Google and Facebook.

“There are two sets of issues affecting Johnston Press. The first is the Group’s historical debts, including its pension obligations, which continue to weigh on our Balance Sheet. The second is the tough market conditions affecting the performance of our newspapers and websites. However, our resilient performance allowed us to generate an operating profit of £7.4m in the period, up from £4.9m in H1 2017,” stated chief executive officer David King.

“The market backdrop for regional/local newspapers is extremely difficult, as evidenced by the 15% drop in our adjusted advertising revenues from H1 2017.”

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