Falling print sales and rising phone-hacking payouts lead The Sun to £68m loss

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

The owner of The Sun newspaper made a loss of £68m last year as costs related to the phone-hacking scandal continued to bite.

News Group Newspapers (NGN), which publishes The Sun and The Sun on Sunday, reported the loss - which narrowed from £91m the previous year - for the year to June 30th 2019.

That was largely due to its continuing payouts to victims of its phone-hacking malpractice - many relating to activity at the News of the World almost a decade ago - with payouts totalling £54million going to celebrities including Elton John and Liz Hurley.

Revenue was also hit by declining print sales, with 1.38m copies sold each day, 8% down year on year - although the paper remains the UK's biggest selling daily paper. The Sun on Sunday sold 111,000 fewer copies each week over the year, at an average of 1.16m.

The publisher has however continued to grow its digital presence and TheSun.co.uk reached 33.9m unique visitors in July 2019, up 7.4% year-on-year.

Digital-only paid subscriptions were also up 19% to 304,000, and the company launched a US version of its website in January.

Overall, NGN actually increased turnover from £401m to £420m, but this was mainly due to a £39.5m boost from Australian gambling firm Tabcorp after it pulled out of a deal to operate Sun Bets.

"Following the allegations of voicemail interception and inappropriate payments to public officials, there have been a number of civil cases against the company, most of which have been settled, or are in the process of being settled," the firm said.