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Trinity Mirror will enter a period of consultation at its Midlands titles today, as the publisher announced that its Midlands businesses are currently running at a forecast loss in excess of £6 million for 2010.

Staff, advertisers and union representatives will be involved to 'identify changes to ensure the future stability and viability of its businesses', which could see the Birmingham Post go weekly and the Birmingham Mail printed overnight. 

"Whichever options are developed and submitted as business plan proposals will inevitably involve further job losses and product changes given the scale of the challenge," staff were told in an internal email from the group's Birmingham and Coventry managing directors. 

"These consultations are at an early stage. No decisions have been made and no business cases for change have been developed. However we have now reached the point where our alternative courses of action need to be crystallised into options we can take to consultation, both internally with our staff and externally with our customers.

"[W]e are currently in a serious loss-making situation, and that threatens all of our futures unless we take further decisive action. We, literally, have no alternative."
 
In early July, it was reported by the Financial Times that the Birmingham Post could go weekly after 152 years of daily publication, an option confirmed as a possibility in today's press release by the group.

The official statement from Trinity Mirror said that 'were it not for the actions we have already taken over the past 12 months' losses could have run to £10 million.

"The economic situation facing these businesses is extraordinary in both its severity and impact," said Georgina Harvey, managing director, Trinity Mirror Regionals, in the release.

"I feel strongly that everyone involved in these businesses - staff and advertisers - are fully aware of these challenges and that we can have a genuine and open dialogue about all potential options that can help to return these businesses to profit.

"With this goal in mind we are actively seeking to achieve a timetable of consultation meetings with staff and union representatives.

"We have difficult choices to make but together we will ensure the future viability and survival of our great Midlands businesses."

At the end of July possible strike action at the papers was called off after the NUJ chapels 'secured an agreement for no compulsory redundancies'. Union members at the titles had balloted for action, following the announcement of job cuts and the closure of weekly titles.

Trinity Mirror responded to a vote of no confidence in the TM management, via a statement, accusing the NUJ of undermining efforts by the the publisher to work with the union during these changes.

Most recently, Trinity Mirror rejected public statements by local publisher Chris Bullivant that he was in a position to buy some of the local Midlands titles. In turn, Bullivant made public emails indicating the nature of discussions that had previously taken place with Trinity Mirror.

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