UK daily 'Independent' to go online-only

London: One of Britain's leading daily newspapers, 'The Independent', today announced it will end its print edition and switch to 'digital only' mode from next month amid falling readership.

Launched in 1986, the editorial team at The Independent is currently led by an Indian-origin editor Amol Rajan and is known as a campaigning voice among media outlets in the UK.

The ESI Media-owned newspaper was in the news earlier this week for its decision to revert back to using Bombay instead of Mumbai when referring to the Indian city in future as a reaction to Hindu right-wing agenda, which Rajan blamed for forcibly pushed through the name change in 1995.

Rajan is expected to continue as editor.

"The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers. They're showing us that the future is digital," said ESI owner Evgeny Lebedev, a Russian billionaire.

"This decision preserves the 'Independent' brand and allows us to continue to invest in the high quality editorial content that is attracting more and more readers to our online platforms," Lebedev said.

The Independent has a total circulation of around nearly 60,000, making it one of Britain's least-read newspaper.

Nearly 100 jobs are believed to be on the line for redundancies at 'The Independent' and 'Independent on Sunday' newspapers.

But the company plans to add 25 new "digital-content roles" as part of a compete focus on the digital version of the newspaper.

"The last print edition of the 'Independent' will be published on Saturday 26 March, while the last 'Independent on Sunday' will be on 20 March," Lebedev said.

"My family bought and invested heavily in the Independent because we believe in world-class quality journalism, and this move secures the future of these vitally important editorial values," Lebedev added.

The publisher said that newspaper's website, which has 58 million monthly readers, is already profitable and is expected to see revenues grow 50 per cent this year.

"There will be some redundancies among editorial employees. The number of roles affected will be confirmed following a consultation period," ESI said in a statement.

The company has said 25 new digital content roles and a new mobile app will be created and editorial bureaus will becreated in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

ESI Media has also confirmed the sale of its tabloid 'i' newspaper to Johnston Press for around 24 million pounds, subject to approval from Johnston's shareholders.

It, however, stressed that today's announcement in no way affects the 'Evening Standard' newspaper, also owned by the same group.

The Lebedevs bought 'The Independent' for a nominal 1 pound in 2010, when its losses were running at 22.6 million pounds.

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