Journalism is on the precipice with more than £1 billion likely to fall off the industry’s topline. Several years of projected structural revenue decline in advertising and circulation have occurred in just the past few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, with no letup in sight.

The UK’s rich heritage of independent journalism is at risk, with responses by Government and ‘big tech’ multinationals welcomed but ultimately inadequate. We make two further recommendations for engagement in this report.

Journalism enterprises from the small, local and specialist outfits through to national household brands will either fail or remain on a path to future failure.

COVID-19 has sent online news surging, with publishers experiencing massive traffic uplift, as trusted news sources become increasingly important.

But the industry is still heavily reliant on print revenues, and we are seeing supply chains come under extreme pressure as core readers self-isolate and retail giants close or de-prioritise news media. Advertising—including categories like retail and travel—has collapsed.

In face of existential threats to the sector, we have written to DCMS to mobilise Government funding to sustain news provision and journalism.

The local press is in an existential crisis: relentless decline in revenues since 2004 has rebased the scale of the sector, but there is little if any consensus about what to do next, despite broad agreement that the implications for democracy are deeply troubling

Incumbents have focused on incremental innovation with limited success, and have failed to adapt their digital strategies from those created 20 years ago, despite overwhelming evidence that they do not work, and never will

We argue for radical innovation, switching the industry’s focus from advertising to communities, building new use-cases while also sustaining print media for as along as possible, both to buy time but also to develop a multimedia roadmap for utility, entertainment and public good services

Accelerating print advertising declines in 2016 are placing pressure on local newspaper publishers to deliver faster online growth

However, digital growth is being supported yet compressed by Google and Facebook; we estimate SME expenditure on Google is roughly 2x the local press, and we expect SME spend with Facebook to match local newspaper advertising revenues in two to three years

Publishers need to grow consumer registrations and subscriptions, digital display and also digital marketing services, in partnerships with the tech giants – but first they have to convince consumers they have relevant use-cases that global platforms cannot replicate

The sale of the i, the innovative 2011 launch by the Independent, inevitably led to its parent’s death in print form and pushes two media experiments into the marketplace

ESI Media becomes the first publisher to switch a traditional national news brand into a digital-only service, while Johnston Press has developed a new local-national platform to compete with Trinity Mirror

Content publishers will increasingly experiment with vertical models and membership models for a range of services including access to some content as the challenges of the digital advertising market begin to mount

By fully acquiring Local World, Trinity Mirror has bought scale advantage in the local media marketplace, and accelerated a much needed growth story for digital assets.

The medium term outlook for local media continues to look stormy, underlining the importance of investment in technology and new platforms for publishing, journalism and marketing, essential for longer term sustainability.

Consolidation is needed to drive a more cost-effective investment phase as the transition to digital continues apace, provided the competition authorities do not interfere.

Non-subscribers can download this report in full - alongside all our other coverage of the BBC during the Charter Review process - from the 'BBC Charter Review' page of our site.

BBC proposals for local media set out on 7 September offer solutions to an alleged market failure, without much evidence, contained in February’s Future of News report.

There is no dispute that local commercial print and online media operations have suffered heavy revenue losses since their peak a decade ago – the industry is, however, still profitable, innovation and online growth are helping to stabilise the top-line, and new enterprises are emerging.

Local media publishers prefer a turbo-charged BBC policy of linking to their sites to the proposal for a local media digital hub fed by publishers and 100 BBC journalists.

UK advertising is having a bumper year – some of the strongest growth for two decades – but print is receiving none of this upside. The year started soft then plummeted in the weeks immediately before and since the General Election, with increasingly serious implications for the sector

A reasonably steady UK economy and explosive TV and digital spend evidence a structural decline for print media display, though specific factors also point to some cyclical effects

We forecast a slowing of the rate of decline in H2 2015 and 2016, but we believe sooner or later the industry will have to work closely with agencies and brands to establish new terms of engagement for print media