The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on major news publishers in the UK has been underscored by a report that the owner of the Daily Mail has seen a sharp fall in profits for the first six months of 2020.
Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) has posted pre-tax profit of £56m in the six months to the end of March, down from £100m in the same period last year.
Last month DMGT decided against furloughing any of the 2,400 staff at its publishing operation, instead asking employees to take a temporary pay cut in return for shares in the company. At the end of the year they will be able to cash in the shares and if the price has dropped the company will make up the difference, or they can hold on to the shares as an investment.
The Daily Mail has made its own headlines with its Mail Force campaign, bringing millions of items of PPE for the NHS to the UK during the crisis.
DMGT today said its trading had been strong in the first five months of the financial year, but that the Covid-19 impact had started to have an effect in March.
The media group, which includes the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday titles, as well as Mail Online, Metro and the i, said the poor market conditions had continued into April, with group revenue down 23 per cent and an adjusted operating loss of £3m over the month.
DMGT said consumer media revenue was down 33 per cent in April.
The main driver behind the decline was print advertising, which plummeted 70 per cent.
The MailOnline, has recorded a 33 per cent rise in daily unique browsers to 16.9m as people move to the news site for updates about the coronavirus.
Metro, which is distributed free on the Tube, posted a one per cent increase in revenue despite seeing its circulation crash to just a quarter of normal levels.
“We will continue to invest, in a disciplined manner, through the cycle where we are confident of the returns. All of our businesses are market leading and I am highly confident that they will come out of this global crisis stronger and fitter,” said chief executive Paul Zwillenberg.
Despite the tough trading conditions, the company increased its interim dividend payout to investors.