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Murdoch asks to merge Times titles

BBC News logo BBC News 18/01/2019
Rupert Murdoch © Getty Images Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch's The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers are asking the government for permission to share resources, including journalists, between the two titles.

The application to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is necessary as legal undertakings were made to keep them separate when he bought the papers in 1981.

The papers employ 505 between them.

The DCMS will give more details later.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09:  Rupert Murdoch attends 'Take Home A Nude' New York Academy of Art benefit at Sotheby's on October 9, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images) © Getty NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Rupert Murdoch attends 'Take Home A Nude' New York Academy of Art benefit at Sotheby's on October 9, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

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."

News UK, the part of Murdoch's News Corp that owns the two papers, said the change would allow more flexibility to share resources across the titles, while continuing to commit to them remaining as 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.

Martin Ivens, editor of The Sunday Times, said: "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."

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The decision to agree to any changes to the legal undertaking rest with Culture Secretary, Jeremy Wright.

News UK said that it amounted to a "small change" to the legal undertakings.

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