Britain’s conservative newspaper The Telegraph, a solid backer of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is citing “structural decline” as profits plummet.
The Financial Times reported that profits before tax fell 94% to £900,000 ($1.14 million) last year. Revenue dropped from £278m ($355 million) in 2017 to £271m ($345 million) in 2018 for the Telegraph Media Group (TMG).
On the plus side, total subscription revenues at TMG, which includes TheDaily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, telegraph.co.uk and Telegraph Events, rose 10%, driven by a 27% uptick in digital subscription revenue.
Yet, online subscriptions did not offset falling sales of newspapers and poor print advertising.
The Daily Telegraph now has an average monthly circulation of 315,270, according to ABC figures for August, following an 18% fall from 385,346 since January 2018. The Sunday Telegraph’s circulation fell 16.5 % in the same period to 249,425, noted the PressGazette.
TMG, owned by the billionaire Barclay Brothers, had 400,000 print and online subscribers in October, out of 5 million registers users, per the PressGazette.
Telegraph CEO Nick Hugh believes another 100,000 paying subscribers will be added next year. The company’s target goal is 1 million print and digital subscribers and 10 million digital users by 2023.
Still, the challenges are intense. Hugh, a former Yahoo and PT executive, told the Financial Times he has to “completely transform an ad-funded business to a subscription business.”
The newspaper industry in general is suffering, and TMG, one of the more profitable British publishers in recent years, is no exception, given the challenge of getting readers to pay for online publishing.