Merger of Times and Sunday Times reportedly tabled with government

Times and Sunday Times look to pool resources

Rupert Murdoch’s News UK is reportedly looking for government approval to allow for The Times and the Sunday Times to pool resources, which some media reports claim as a potential merger.

The entities are run separately per a mandate issued when Murdoch made the purchase in 1981.

However, News UK made an application to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) requesting flexibility to share resources across the titles, which combined employ 505 people.

The application stressed that the two would remain separate newspapers with separate editors.

"This would enable the papers to contend with the continual disruption that has faced the media industry in the digital age," News UK said.

It added that the most "obvious way to achieve further cost savings without affecting the quality of journalism is to remove unnecessary duplication in costs inherent in running entirely separate Monday to Saturday and Sunday newspapers".

Latest figures show that, as of October, the Times courted an average daily paid print circulation of 421,000 and paid digital subscribers of 231,000.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times had an average paid print circulation of about 723,000 and paid digital subscribers of approximately 254,000.

John Witherow, editor of the Times, said: "The persistent cost pressures facing our industry mean that we need to manage our newsrooms as carefully as possible. We need to stay competitive in an increasingly difficult market so that we can continue to build a sustainable future for Times' journalism."

Martin Ivens, editor of the Sunday Times, added: "The Sunday Times remains the biggest selling broadsheet in Britain and to protect our distinctive voice we need the freedom to work more closely to avoid duplication and invest more in the agenda-setting journalism we are famous for."

However, the National Union of Journalists said it converned over potential redundancies.

"We are concerned about the News UK request to change the existing legal undertakings and the potential impact shared content will have on journalists and journalism,” a spokesperson said.

"Cuts are likely to follow if the company are allowed to proceed. We will be seeking further clarity about the details of the proposals announced today."

The DCMS is asking for comments on the proposal by 5pm on 11 February.

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