Sky and Johnston Press have entered into a strategic regional advertising partnership. Sky will make available its new product, Sky AdSmart local, to parts of Johnston Press’ extensive sales network. Already available in more than a fifth of UK households, Sky AdSmart tailors what is shown in TV ad breaks according to a household’s location and profile.
The partnership will begin with two markets: the first of these covers Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield; and the second, Milton Keynes, Northampton and Peterborough.
Andrew Griffith, Sky’s Managing Director, Commercial Businesses, said: “Sky AdSmart local helps level the playing field for local businesses. They can now compete effectively with national brands, using the unique brand-building power of TV. Local companies can promote their products or service on any of Sky’s quality channels and be confident they are reaching their target audiences. We are looking forward to partnering with Johnston Press with its considerable experience of working alongside local communities and its market-leading role in building successful local digital media platforms.”
Ashley Highfield, CEO of Johnston Press, said: “Johnston Press has been focused on its vision to become a truly multimedia business over the last two years. This agreement with Sky is testament to the platform we have put in place. That Sky has further demonstrated its conviction in our strategy by investing in our business is particularly encouraging. The strength of our sales team network and our relationships with small and medium-sized enterprises across the UK position us well to deliver a comprehensive portfolio of advertising and marketing solutions. We already have 300,000 local business customers who benefit from our expertise and it is exciting that we will now be able to offer them Sky AdSmart local.”
As part of the deal Sky will take part in a refinancing of the suffering local news group and will invest £5 million (€5.9m) for a stake of 1.6 per cent. The refinancing, which is subject to shareholder approval, includes a £137.7 million rights issue, £220 million in new bonds and a £25 million revolving credit facility. The new deal will dramatically cut the heavily indebted publisher’s burden from £311 million to about £197 million when the refinancing is complete, with a significant reduction in annual interest payments.