Lebedev 'to announce closure of Independent print editions today'

Evgeny Lebedev is expected to announce later today that the print editions of the Independent and Independent on Sunday will be closed.

Evgeny Lebedev
Evgeny Lebedev

Speculation surrounding the future of the titles has mounted since ESI Media confirmed that it was in the advanced stages of discussions with Johnston Press to sell i, the cut-price daily national, for around £24m.

The guardian has reported that Lebedev will confirm the speculation in a statement later today.

The i has been integral in financially supporting the Independent since its launch in 2010 and so it has been widely speculated that Lebedev will invest the funds from the sale into strengthening the Independent’s digital platform and ending the print editions.

Many of the 150 full-time staff across the Indy and i titles now face uncertainty over the future of their jobs, however, between 20 and 40 members of staff are expected to move to Johnston Press which is reportedly planning to create a website for the title.

NUJ reps working on Johnston Press's regional titles admitted that they were “astonished” that Johnson Press had £24m available for the deal given staff cuts and net debt of £184.6m.

As speculation mounted around the closure of the print editions Laura Davison, NUJ national organizer, said “The closure of the Independent print titles would be a disaster not only for those working on the newspapers but the whole UK media landscape.”

Editor of the i, Oliver Duff, used his column in today’s edition to discuss the fate of the newspaper: “Johnston Press’s huge admiration for i, for the team and writers who create each daily edition, for i’s readers, and for i’s founding principles, has been obvious throughout talks with them.”

Lebedev has attempted to sell the Independent titles in recent years, however his most recent efforts with a Qatari suitor proved unsuccessful.