The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation has been blamed for a 9% drop in the revenues of the Johnston Press Media Group.
Johnston Press operates approximately 200 newspapers and websites across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Its flagship titles include The Scotsman, Derry Journal and Belfast News.
Overall group revenues dipped by 9% over the first half of 2018 on the back of this weak performance. As well as the costs of GDPR compliance, the future cost of paper is a worrying factor for the organization.
The group released a statement which said: “The trading environment remains extremely challenging, exacerbated in recent months by uncertainty around future paper costs and the impact of GDPR on digital advertising revenues.”
Restrictions on digital advertising under GDPR led to the group painting a pessimistic outlook for the second half of 2018. Along with this the Johnston Press are also currently completing a restructuring review before June 2019 when UK£220 are due for repayment.
Following the announcement shares in the group sank by 17.6 percent to a record low after the publishing firm said the new European Union legislative changes to data privacy rules were impacting its online advertising revenue, describing the new regime as “extremely challenging”.
Last month group Chief Executive, Ashley Highfield stepped down from his role citing family reasons for his departure. Mr Highfield, who had been in the role is being replaced by David King. He (Highfield) led the acquisition of the i newspaper.
Johnston Press chairwoman Camilla Rhodes, speaking at the time of Mr Highfield’s departure being announced said that he had performed an outstanding job in restructuring the business. She said “Ashley oversaw the successful acquisition of the i newspaper, has driven growth in our digital footprint, while making substantial progress in reorganising and restructuring our business. We wish him every success in the next phase of his career.
She went on to speak about his replacement commenting: “I am pleased to announce that David King will step up to become CEO. David has worked closely with the Board on our strategic review of financing options. I am confident that David will prove to be a strong leader and his transition to the CEO role provides stability to the business at this important time.”