UK newspaper group Trinity Mirror to merge national and regional operations

British newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror Plc (LON:TNI) announced on Monday it will combine its nationals and regionals segments under one management structure to establish a more efficient model through which to pursue its long-term plans.

The resulting division will be managed by Trinity’s newly-appointed chief operating officer and executive director Mark Hollinshead. By merging the two segments, the company seeks to boost the effectiveness of editorial, advertising and support functions across all of its print and digital publishing activities.

The move will allow a faster rollout of digital offerings throughout Trinity’s portfolio to drive revenue, the company explained. The company also said that digital product development and the specialist digital operations along with the contract printing activities will now be managed separately.

Furthermore, Trinity plans to close its recently launched daily deals business, called Happli, as it is unlikely to turn to profitability in the near term.

As a result of the new management structure, the regionals division’s managing director Georgina Harvey and corporate communications director Nick Fullagar will be leaving Trinity.

The company also noted that trading remains in line with the board’s projections. Its CEO Simon Fox, who took the particular role as of 10 September, stated these changes will form a group with a “unique” portfolio of national and regional brands.

Glasgow Rangers fans conduct a campaign of intimidation — report

Rangers, the Glasgow football club, has had a torrid couple of seasons off the pitch, culminating in a spectacular implosion that forced it into administration in February.

In a lengthy blog post today, Channel 4 reporter Alex Thomson highlights a particularly disturbing aspect of the ongoing disaster: what he describes as a campaign of intimidation by Rangers fans aimed at those who have challenged the stricken club.

Although more a summary than an independent investigation, Thomson does a powerful job of explaining the underbelly of Scottish football – and he reveals the culture of threats ‘is getting worse’.

Thomson has personal experience of his subject: he wrote the foreword to Downfall, so far the only book on the crisis, and was, he says, rewarded with a barrage of abuse.

Downfall’s publisher, Frontline Noir, describes ‘pressure applied’ to discourage shops from stocking the title – while some stockists have reported fans screaming at staff for stocking copies according to Thomson.

And in a spectacular reverse ferret, the Sun announced and then cancelled a serialisation of Downfall, faced with complaints and threats considered so serious the police were called in.

This isn’t the only recent incident that has required police attention.

The head of the Scottish Football Association, Stewart Regan, consulted counterterrorism police after he claimed he had received death threats from diehard Rangers fans. Other Scottish Football Association directors had their addresses published online.

The three members of a tribunal that slammed Rangers for ‘bringing the game into disrepute’ also saw their addresses published, and again the police were brought in to advise them on security.

All of this casts the media reporting that has taken place – at both national and local level, in the business and sports sections –  in a new light.

Thomson’s own reporting has included revealing a network of offshore transactions that brought the club to the taxman’s attention. And the wheelings and dealings of majority shareholder Craig Whyte have come under forensic attention from Thomson, Private Eye’s financial maven City Slicker, and others.

The NUJ Scotland is aware of 25 journalists who have ‘been threatened for telling the truth about Rangers’, Thomson says – and he wryly admits he has become used to the abuse himself. For local reporters, the threats may be far more plausible.

And even for a national reporter, writing a post like today’s takes courage. Little of what he reveals will surprise anyone in Glasgow, Thomson points out – yet from the outside this is an attack on freedom of speech so drastic that you would hardly believe it could exist in modern-day Britain.

Read Threats and silence: the intimidation by Rangers fans

Written by   for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Spain to offload stake in satellite operator Hispasat to Abertis

The Spanish government plans to dispose of its interest in local satellite operator Hispasat SA, selling the stake to Abertis Infraestructuras SA (MCE:ABE), Spanish news agency Europa Press reported.

The state owns 25% of Hispasat’s stock via several public sector entities. They are Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial (the National Institute of Space Technology, or INTA) with an interest of 16.42%; Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (the State Company for Industrial Shareholdings, or SEPI) with 7.41% and Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnologico e Industrial (the Centre for Technological and Industrial Development, or CDTI) with 1.85%.

Abertis – the Spanish operator of toll roads, airports and telecommunications infrastructures – currently owns 47% of Hispasat’s shares. The company increased its holding in February, when it acquired the stake held by telecommunications giant Telefonica SA (MCE:TEF). French-based Eutelsat Communications SA has an interest of 27.69%.

Europa Press cited SEPI president Ramon Aguirre as saying that members of the government had already agreed among themselves to greenlight the deal.

Hispasat was established in 1989, starting out with the objective of providing broadcast services to the Spanish and Portuguese language markets. Over the years, the company has kept expanding its satellite fleet and its portfolio of products and services. It now provides audio-visual, corporate, government, broadband and consultancy services, operating in markets across Europe, Latin America and North America.