Agencies welcome Trinity's GMG Regional purchase

LONDON - Media agencies have welcomed Trinity Mirror's purchase of GMG Regional Media, the owner of the Manchester Evening News, as the future of GMG Media's city station Channel M is under discussion.

Georgina Harvey, managing director of Trinity Mirror Regionals
Georgina Harvey, managing director of Trinity Mirror Regionals

Earlier today Trinity Mirror agreed the purchase of the Guardian Media Group's regional division for £44.8m. The deal covers GMG's MEN Media titles and its Surrey & Berkshire papers but excludes its Manchester-based TV station Channel M and two newspapers in Woking.

Trinity said it plans to run MEN Media as a separate business run by David Sharrock, currently chief operating officer of GMG Regional Media, as managing director.

S&B Media will be managed as part of TNS, Trinity Mirror's existing publishing business in the South of England.

The Manchester Evening News will now sit with Trinity's 120 regional titles such as the Liverpool Echo and the Birmingham Mail.

Georgina Harvey, managing director of Trinity Mirror Regionals, called the GMG titles a "perfect strategic fit for Trinity Mirror's business and a match made in heaven".

She added: "The GMG titles share a number of characteristics with Trinity Mirror's own titles. They are big regional titles and will extend our reach in print and online."

The MEN Media titles, which include approxmiately 20 weekly titles in the North West as well as the Evening News, are currently sold by an inhouse national team with the S&B Media titles sold by regional sales house Media Force. However, Trinity Mirror has its own regional sales house Amra which used to handle the Manchester Evening News.

According to Harvey, Trinity Mirror has "no proposals for any specific changes" but it will want to review any contracts and will discuss options with staff.

Media agencies have been quick to support today's purchase, highlighting the improved portfolio and strategic fit for Trinity.

Les Middleton, joint head of the regional division Accent at WPP media agency MediaCom, called the deal a "good move" for all concerned, noting: "The Guardian papers fit with Trinity Mirror's portfolio in the rest of the area and complement Trinity Mirror's sell."

Matt Merrett, buying director at Omnicom agency OMD UK, also welcomed the move as making "perfect strategic sense as it strengthens Trinity Mirror's portfolio nicely".

Merrett added: "The MEN itself will be a good addition to Trinity's existing list of daily titles, and from an advertising revenue point of view it will strengthen their ability to offer more portfolio sells."

The future of regional city TV station Channel M, however, is as yet unclear. A spokesman for GMG said the company is examining a range of options for the channel and its 30 staff.

A time frame has not been finalised but a spokesman stressed it would "not run into months".

Channel M had struggled for support from agencies and Harvey said Trinity Mirror chose not buy the station because it is "based on the city TV model which Trinity Mirror believes is unviable going forward".

Harvey said: "Trinity Mirror is a much bigger regional publisher than GMG. We are better placed to develop them in a market that's likely to consolidate further.

"Regional publishers need to be large scale players and Trinity Mirror Regionals is a better home for the long term success of these businesses."

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