Northcliffe Media has announced proposals to close two of its Kent weekly newspapers, the Medway News and East Kent Gazette, with the potential loss of around 35 to 40 jobs.

The titles are likely to cease publication in early December following a consultation with staff, a statement from the publisher said today.

According to the statement, the closure is a result of the collapse of a proposed deal to sell the papers – along with the five other titles under the Kent Regional News & Media Group – to the Kent Messenger Group.

Northcliffe cancelled the planned merger after the Office of Fair Trading referred it to the Competition Commission in October. A spokesperson for the publisher said at the time that the costs necessary for a review by the commission would be "completely unreasonable for a business of our size and for a deal of this scale".

The regional publisher, which is part of the Daily Mail & General Trust, announced today that the titles were no longer financially viable as a result of the failure of the planned deal.

Steve Auckland, group managing director, said: "As a result of the OFT's decision on our proposed sale of Kent Regional News & Media to the KM Group we have no choice but to consider closing these titles with the resulting job losses."

The other five titles under the Kent Regional News & Media group are
the Herne Bay and Whitstable Times, Isle of Thanet Gazette, Thanet Times, Folkestone Herald and Dover Express.

Kent Messenger Group announced last week that it it planned to seek up to 10 voluntary redundancies as a result of the failure of the planned merger.

Outlining its decision in October, the Office of Fair Trading said that
the proposed merger of Kent Regional News & Media and the KM Group risked "costlier advertising for businesses and higher cover prices for readers".

It emerged earlier this month that regulatory body Ofcom assessed the proposed merger prior to the OFT referral, and warned that blocking it may lead to Kent Regional News and Media closing some or all of its newspapers.

“If advertising revenues, circulation figures and profits continue to fall at their current rates, then absent the merger, Kent Messenger Group and Kent Regional News & Media may in the future be forced to close or merge titles or perhaps even cease operating altogether, thereby resulting in a worse outcome for consumers."

The closure of the Kent titles follows news yesterday today that Northcliffe's
Bridgwater and Burnham Times was to publish its final issue today after 12 years in print. The closure was announced in a story on the newspaper's front page.

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