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Image credit:Bank Phrom on Unsplash

The Daily Mail to buy the i newspaper? Strong stories circulating this morning (Monday 12 November), and reported on the BBC, that the Daily Mail is about to put in an offer to buy the i newspaper.

Johnston Press, publishers of the Eastbourne Herald, is based in Edinburgh, with flagship titles including national newspaper the i and The Scotsman. The company publishes around 200 other newspapers.

As the Pevensey Bay Journal reported (Saturday 27 October), the decision to put the company up for sale follows the failure to come up with a refinancing package to pay off its £220m debt.

The Journal indicated that the proposed sale of Johnston Press risked the possibility of the group being broken up, with a sale of the i newspaper and other major assets separated from the regional press titles.

The news this morning that the Daily Mail is to consider buying the i newspaper confirms that what the BBC has described as ‘a fire sale’ of Johnston Press may be about to take place.

Media analyst Jim Chisholm talking on the Hold the Front Page, the authoritative guide to the inside world of the mainstream print media suggested (5 November), “by the time JP acquired the Yorkshire Post Group in 2002, the alarm bells were ringing.

“Could this ‘buy-milk-buy’ strategy survive when every acquisition was a declining business”.

He added “the elephants in the room are the, possibly negotiable, £200m of debt, plus the longer-term £40m pension deficit”.

If the sale of the i newspaper to the Daily Mail goes ahead, what will remain to be seen is what will happen with other prize assets such as the Scotsman newspaper.

The future of the other 200 other newspapers that Johnston Press owns, including the Eastbourne Herald, should the sale of the i newspaper go ahead, is yet to be seen.

For a local point of view, the future of the Eastbourne Herald will come into sharp focus.

The local press is vital to many communities here in this part of Sussex, as is the case elsewhere in the country.

As the Pevensey Bay Journal has indicated, “authority needs to be held to account, local newspapers are the place in print where questions about these matters can be investigated, discussed and debated”.

There has been no public statement from Johnston Press about the possible sale of i newspaper to the Daily Mail group but a company spokesman has said that the formal sale process launched on October 11 is ongoing.