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Trinity Mirror considers charging for regional digital content

Trinity Mirror has reported a tripling of pre-tax profits to £123.7m and is considering plans to experiment with paid-for content across its regional titles' websites.

Sly Bailey: Trinity regional titles may charge for digital content

Sly Bailey: Trinity regional titles may charge for digital content

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The publisher of the Daily Mirror and around 160 regional titles, has today (3 March) reported flat revenues of £761.5m, although profits swelled, helped by a strong performance of its GMG Regional Media business.

Pre-tax profits jumped to £123.7m in the 52 weeks ending January 2011, compared to £42m in the 53 weeks ending 3 January 2010.

Trinity Mirror acquired the Manchester Evening News and its sister regional titles for £44.8m in February last year.

In the 11 months since it acquired the division, it has reported revenues of £50.9m and profits of £5.7m, prompting chief executive Sly Bailey to stress how the deal has been "a great deal".

Bailey, on a conference call today, also reiterated the group’s strategy towards charging for digital news content.

She said "We can see consumers may pay for niche, high-value content", but added they had "zero propensity" to pay for general news.

Bailey said the group is considering charging for some digital editorial content across its regional titles, for some of its business coverage for example, but the regional sites will remain largely advertiser-funded.

Trinity Mirror’s other key regional titles include the Liverpool Echo, Birmingham Post, Liverpool Daily Post and the Coventry Telegraph. Bailey would not disclose which titles Trinity might experiment with.

Rival regional publisher Johnston Press experimented with small-scale trial of paid-for digital content in 2009.

Bailey said there are no immediate plans to charge for digital content across its national titles, which include the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror.

In 2011, Bailey said the group – like rival newspaper groups – plans to launch paid-for tablet editions to cash in on consumer fervour around the emerging technology.

The company’s results reveal Trinity Mirror’s regional division endured another challenging year. Underlying revenue fell 7.5%, reflecting tough economic conditions, falling public sector spending and a sluggish property market.

The group said its national titles "maintained advertising volume market share during the year".

Across the whole business, advertising revenue was up 5.9% on the year to £351.3m. But excluding the acquisition of the GMG papers, ad revenue was down 6.3% to £311m.

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