A dozen jobs are at risk at the Birmingham Press and Birmingham Free Press, owner Chris Bullivant has told Journalism.co.uk.

"Around 12 jobs will go as well as many of my part-time contract journalists," he said. "Many more journalists may disappear if monopolistic publishing is allowed to resurrect itself in the UK."

Bullivant announced earlier this week that he planned to close both titles, citing his inability to compete with an offer made by rival publisher BPM media - Trinity Mirror's Birmingham publishing business - to local estate agents.

"The offer, as I understand it, was to advertise a full-page advertisement in both the Birmingham Mail and the Mail extra, a total of 130,000 copies, for the sum of £250. The best price I could offer, and the lowest I believe I could have offered under my interpretation of predatory pricing legislation rules, would have been just under £300 for a 70,000 circulation," he said.

"As our losses would be very substantial over the period, we had no option other than to close the newspapers."

Bullivant has faced criticism for his move to close the titles. A freelancer working for his newspaper, who did not wish to be named, told Journalism.co.uk: "Those who contributed to the Birmingham Press are now extremely worried that we will not get the thousands of pounds that are owed to us. Even from the very beginning of the operation, the company was very slow to pay invoices and that did raise alarms bells for me.

"I tailed off contributions to the paper until I was paid, but have not received anything from my September invoice. It appears he is doing what he can to protect his own interests."

Bullivant said yesterday: "I think the person who complained to you is the same man who cursed me the day before by email; this sort of occurrence really illustrates the calibre of people out there."

Chris Morley, northern representative for the National Union of Journalists, said Bullivant had received an unfair amount of criticism and said the publisher was risking far fewer jobs than Trinity Mirror had cut this year. (Please see the clarification below)

Bullivant launched the Press in April with a run of 20,000, shortly after Trinity Mirror introduced the Birmingham Post Lite to the area. The Free Press was launched in June with 60,000 copies and intended to increase competition with Trinity Mirror's Birmingham Mail, Post and Post Lite.

Journalism.co.uk would like to make a clarification to the comments made by Chris Morley, Northern & Midlands organiser at the NUJ. His comments were taken out of context by the author and as such are not truly representative of his or the NUJ's views on this situation. Journalism.co.uk would like to apologise for this.

Chris actually made the point that the union was acting to secure the best possible deal for a number of freelance members who had been left substantially out of pocket by the Birmingham Press/Free Press' collapse. He stated that while the NUJ had welcomed the establishment of the titles at the time as providing extra journalistic work in the region following the severe cuts made elsewhere, there were always concerns that it would survive and provide long-term, properly paid work for journalists.

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