Enders: UK journalism 'on precipice' and needs government 'rescue'

News brands: govt launched three-month partnership in April
News brands: govt launched three-month partnership in April

It warns that there is 'no let-up in sight'.

The UK journalism industry is facing a loss of £1bn this year and is on the "precipice", with a decline of several years' worth of advertising and subscription revenue taking place in the past few weeks.

The stark impact of the coronavirus crisis on the industry has been revealed in a report released this morning (Friday) by Enders Analysis that warned there is "no let-up in sight".

Enders forecasts a £570m fall in ad revenue for print newspapers, a £200m drop for magazines and a £210m decline for digital in 2020. The decrease in circulation is expected to lead to a £215m shortfall for news brands, rising to £267m when including magazines. The drop in other revenue streams such as events and content marketing is likely to amount to about £150m. 

The report said that "journalism is on the precipice" and made the case for "rescue by government and private initiatives from ‘big tech’, the technology multinationals such as Google, Facebook and Apple".

News brands have been hit hard since the outbreak began to take hold and have said they are facing a £50m drop in revenue between April and June. Despite record online readers, the industry has said that ad revenue has not followed suit because many brands make use of tools that block their campaigns from appearing alongside articles that mention words such as "coronavirus" or "Covid-19".

The report said: "The UK has entered a national journalism emergency. No amount of intelligent cost-cutting will protect journalists and no amount of exemplary technology innovation will offset the funding collapse for the human journalism endeavour at the beating heart of the country’s communities and democracy.

"We estimate that more than £1bn will fall out of the industry this year and we believe there is not a single news business that is not either at risk of going under as a direct result of Covid-19 or could have its future curtailed as opportunities to invest and innovate are lost to cost-cutting. Further support from government and ‘big tech’ is an urgent necessity."

Enders welcomed the recent government cash injection (estimated at £35m) with the launch of an ad blitz across hundreds of newspapers in a three-month deal, but added that that this is not enough.

The City analyst is calling for big tech companies and the government to match-fund to reduce the burden on one organisation and to "dilute publisher fears journalists are falling into the hands of either government or big tech".

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