In Depth

The Sun reveals £68m loss as Murdoch’s tabloid struggles

Most losses come as paper continues to reach settlements for the phone-hacking scandal, a problem compounded by falling print sales

Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun and Sun on Sunday newspapers revealed this weekend that they lost £68 million in the 12 months leading up to July 2019, citing declining print sales and continued payouts to settle phone-hacking cases.

News Group Newspapers Ltd, the publisher of The Sun and Sun on Sunday and former publisher of the News of the World, said it had handed £54 million last year to the victims of its phone-hacking malpractice almost a decade ago - including figures such as Elton John and Elizabeth Hurley.

This means that Britain’s best-selling newspaper is spending an eighth of its total revenue settling the claims, as the scandal continues to dog them, perhaps most notably in the case of Prince Harry, whose phone-hacking cases against The Sun and The Daily Mirror are ongoing.

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Revenue was up on the previous year, rising from £401 million to £420 million, and the loss is less than the previous years’ £91 million.

However, reports The Telegraph, “the losses would have topped £100m had The Sun not benefited from a £40m payment from the Australian gambling operator Tabcorp for pulling out of Sun Bets, a joint venture which failed to challenge established bookmakers.”

The paper also experienced a drop in print sales, with 125,000 fewer sold than in the same period that finished in 2018.

As a result, says The Guardian, the paper is “on track to lose” the title of Britain’s best-selling print publication “to the Daily Mail at some point this year, as its paid circulation heads below 1.1m copies a day.”

The financial results from Murdoch’s other ventures were better, however, with Times Newspapers Limited, which publishes The Times and the Sunday Times, registering a £3.8 million profit.

Wireless Group Limited, another Murdoch outfit which counts TalkSPORT and Virgin Radio in its portfolio, achieved a turnover of £46 million, up from £41 million.

“Murdoch has ramped up his attack on the BBC in recent months,” says City AM, “unveiling the launch of talk station Times Radio, which has been mooted as a new rival to Radio 4.”

Times Radio is due for launch later this year, and will be advertisement free, it’s aim being to drive subscriptions to the two Times newspapers.

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