Friday, 26 October 2018

Publisher liable for money owed to journalists still plans to reopen weeklies

Report by David Sharman for HoldTheFrontPage

A publisher at the centre of a row over a series of local newspapers which ceased publication in January has reiterated his determination to reopen them over time.

Duncan Williams - Pulman's Weekly News
Duncan Williams, left, bought the View From titles, which cover areas of Dorset, Devon and Somerset, in January following their closure by previous owner, Sunday Independent publisher Peter Masters.

A court has since ruled Mr Williams is liable for money owed to a group of 28 former View From employees who were made redundant when the titles ceased publication.

But he has restated his intention to appeal the decision and says he is still working to get the eight View From titles as well as Axminster-based Pulman’s Weekly News reopened, although he accepts this will not happen in one go.

As part of the relaunch plan, he has set up a video news channel entitled View News which also aims to offer a PR service to local businesses, converting press releases into videos which would then be carried on the newspapers’ social media channels and websites.

The View From titles served towns and villages including Beaminster, Bridport, Dorchester, Lyme Regis, Weymouth, Seaton, Honiton and South Somerset, while Pulman’s Weekly News covered Axminster.

Said Duncan: “The titles will all be brought back incrementally. As they have been traditionally free, budgets need to be securely in place first off before relaunching the entire portfolio in one fell swoop.

“Revenues from video advertising and social media are designed to enable this.”

Duncan added: “Despite the recent controversy surrounding their acquisition, I remain very happy indeed with the Pulman’s Weekly News brand.

“Their founder George Pulman was an influential Christian publisher of the Victorian era whose vision I much admire and whose community values are certainly part of what makes local media so vital to regions.

“Likewise, I remain delighted with the View News series, which I know have suffered from sharply declining advertising revenues, repeat closures, rumpuses and relaunches. However, the technology upgrades I have personally invested in are hoping to remedy this.

“To be clear to all of my investors, banks and advertising agencies: I have no intention whatsoever of going bankrupt. The employment tribunal decision will be appealed.”

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