In what must be one of the oddest business moves of 2008, The Independent (UK) titles are set to move in with their rivals at The Daily Mail.
Tony O’Reilly’s / Independent News & Media‘s two British publications – The Independent and The Independent on Sunday – will share office space with the Associated Press’ Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Metro and Evening Standard titles once it moves from London’s Docklands to Kensington, also in London.
Both sets of publications will remain in the hands of completely separate proprietors and will remain market rivals. Coincidently enough The “Irish” Daily Mail was seen as a direct threat to The Irish Independent and Evening Herald newspapers (both owned by O’Reilly) when it launched here in 2006. The Dublin edition of Metro – owned by Associated and The Irish Times – is also in direct competition with IN&M’s Herald AM
It is not uncommon for stable mates to merge office space and operations – as we in Ireland are currently seeing in the radio sector – however for two absolute rivals to do so is verging on the bizarre. What seems even stranger is the suggestion that the two companies may eventually share more resources, even if they are only described as “back-room” and not editorial.
IN&M’s UK titles have faced a lot of scrutiny lately due to their failure to turn a profit for the media giant. Denis O’Brien, a so-called ‘dissident shareholder’ in the company (and owner of the aforementioned Irish radio stations) has called on O’Reilly and Co. to ditch them due to the draining effect they have on resources.
Obviously moving in with the Mail is a step – and by no means the first – towards cutting costs at the company. How journalists working at the various publications feel about the move is yet to be known.