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Government stalls Trinity Mirror and Northern & Shell merger with media plurality fears

Trinity Mirror acquisition of Northern & Shell assets block

The UK Government is minded to intervene in an agreed upon merger between news groups Trinity Mirror Plc and Northern & Shell on “media plurality and free expression of opinion public interest grounds”.

Matt Hancock, head of the department for digital, culture, media and sport, said that Trinity Mirror’s purchase of Northern & Shell assets may raise public interest considerations.

In light of this, he wrote on Monday afternoon that he is minded to launch a Public Interest Intervention Notice (PIIN) against the transaction.

He cited two reasons: “The need for free expression of opinion, and concerns the potential impact the transfer of newspapers would have on editorial decision making,” and “the need for a sufficient plurality of views in newspapers, to the extent that it is reasonable or practicable”.

He noted that nine out of 20 national newspaper titles would be owned under the same roof, a 28% share of UK newspaper circulation.

The committee has invited the groups to make an appeal by 26 April.