In February last year, then-culture secretary Nadine Dorries formally released News UK from its legal requirement, in place since Rupert Murdoch acquired the titles in 1981, to keep The Times and Sunday Times separate.
The main Times and Sunday Times newsrooms currently share certain desks, including travel, property and sport, and have journalists that work across both titles. However, the move to a seven-day operation in Scotland could mark the biggest merger of the two to date.
A spokesperson for Times Media said: “We are currently talking to The Times Scotland and The Sunday Times Scotland editorial teams about creating a seven-day operation, producing a richer and more valuable package for subscribers and allowing the best of the journalism within the team to be published at the most appropriate moments across the week for our readers and subscribers.”
The spokesperson declined to comment on any potential editorial job losses, but a consultation is underway.
At present, The Times Scotland and Sunday Times Scotland have two separate editors – Magnus Llewellin and Jason Allardyce, respectively. It is unclear whether the two will have to compete for the top role in the new seven-day operation.
Llewellin joined The Times as Scottish editor in May 2016 as part of the title’s “determination to expand in Scotland”, while Allardyce has led the Sunday Times Scotland since 2012.
The Times titles have kept their ABC circulation data private since March 2020, but the last data published shows that of The Times’s circulation of 365,880, 8% was in Scotland. Some 7% of The Sunday Times’ circulation of 647,622 came from Scotland.
The Times and Sunday Times have been under the same ownership since the 1960s, under Lord Thomson. Margaret Thatcher’s government opted not to refer Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of the papers to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on the condition that they be retained as separate, editorially independent entities.
News UK appointed Sunday Times deputy editor Ben Taylor as the paper’s editor last month following Emma Tucker’s departure to edit fellow Murdoch property The Wall Street Journal. Times editor Tony Gallagher took up his role in September following the departure of long-time editor John Witherow.
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