Britain's newspaper publishers warn they face losing £50m

Britain’s newspaper publishers warn they face losing £50m because of ‘blocklists’ as advertisers stop their brands appearing next to coronavirus articles

  • Newspapers and their websites have seen a huge surge in demand from readers
  • Some advertisers are stopping brands appearing next to coronavirus articles 
  • If they continue to use the ‘blocklists’ publishers could face £50million shortfall
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Newspaper publishers face losing £50million during the coronavirus lockdown because of advertising ‘blocklists’, they warned today.

The massive loss of revenue could leave newspapers struggling to fulfil their vital role in providing trusted information during the national crisis, publishers warned as they urged advertisers to support journalism.

Newspapers and their websites have seen a huge surge in demand from readers seeking reliable facts and accurate reporting about the spread of the outbreak and measures taken to tackle it.

But many advertisers have used technology to block their brands from appearing alongside website articles about coronavirus.

If they continue to use the so-called ‘blocklists’ then publishers could face a £50million shortfall over the next three months, according to groups representing the news industry.

Newspapers and their websites have seen a huge surge in demand from readers seeking reliable facts and accurate reporting about the spread of the outbreak and measures taken to tackle it

The lost revenue would affect newspapers’ abilities to fund quality journalism, publishers warned in an open letter to advertisers.

Blocklists are lists of keywords that advertisers use to stop their brands from appearing next to inappropriate content.

The inclusion of coronavirus and Covid-19 has meant that publishers receive no advertising revenue from articles about the crisis, the open letter warned.

Tracy De Groose, executive chair of the trade body Newsworks, who wrote the letter on behalf of the industry, said it was vital that advertisers removed coronavirus from their blocklists.

She said: ‘Readers are relying on us right now, and we are relying on advertising to help ensure the public receive information and advice from the very best sources.’

The letter was backed by trade bodies Newsworks, the News Media Association and the Society of Editors, which represent newspaper publishers including the Daily Mail.

Lynne Anderson, deputy chief executive of the News Media Association

It was also supported by the Association for Online Publishers, the Internet Advertising Bureau and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Lynne Anderson, deputy chief executive of the News Media Association, said: ‘The critical role played by news media in getting trusted and accurate information out to the public has been widely acknowledged during the coronavirus outbreak.

‘Advertisers should be supporting this vital public service provided by the media.’

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has already forced several local newspaper groups to reduce their operations.

Newsquest, one of the largest regional news publishers in the UK, has put a ‘significant number’ of its staff on furlough and warned others will face wage cuts.

In London, City AM halted its daily print edition for commuters and put the majority of its staff on furlough.

The London Evening Standard reduced its daily print run and will also furlough some staff and cut pay because of a fall in advertising revenue.

The Press Association, an agency which supplies copy to newspapers, has furloughed 44 of its sports and racing journalists. 

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