KM Group

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KM Group
Industry Media
Founded 1890
Founders Barham Pratt Boorman
Headquarters Larkfield, Kent, England
Number of locations See "Offices", below
Area served Kent
Key people Geraldine Allinson; Chairman, Richard Elliot; MD,
Products Newspapers, Radio Stations, Broadcasting, Websites
Divisions KM Newspapers
KMFM
Kent Business
Headline Travel
Website www.kentonline.co.uk

The KM Group, formerly known as the Kent Messenger Group until 2008, is a multimedia company based in the county of Kent. The company operates local newspapers, radio stations and internet sites throughout the county.

History[edit]

The KM Group can trace its roots back to 1859, when the Maidstone Telegraph (now the Kent Messenger) was first published in Kent's county town of Maidstone. The newspaper was taken over by Barham Pratt Boorman in 1890, after its owners, the Masters brothers, were jailed and were forced to sell up. Boorman had already started his own newspapers in Ashford.

Barham was succeeded by his son, Henry Pratt Boorman, in the late 1920s. Known as The Guv'nor, he was an enthusiast for photography, and pioneered extensive use of pictures in his paper. He realised that people would be keen to buy the paper if it included their picture or pictures of their own towns and villages.

Henry's son Edwin joined the firm in the late 1950s and was managing director from 1962 until 1986. That was when his father stepped down as chairman and became President of what had developed into the Kent Messenger Group. Edwin took the Chair and remained at the helm until the end of 2005 when he was succeeded by his oldest daughter, Geraldine Allinson.

The firm moved from its original editorial offices and printing plant close to Maidstone East Station in the early 1970s following a fire. The new location is about five miles west of Maidstone, at Messenger House, in New Hythe Lane, Larkfield. During Edwin's Chairmanship the company expanded, acquiring other newspapers across Kent, diversifying into local radio and developing a web presence at www.kentonline.co.uk.

The company rebranded itself to the KM Group in 2008.[1] It cut 61 jobs in 2008 due to advertising revenue dropping by 25–30%.[2] Further proposed job losses were announced in February 2009.[3]

Cancelled acquisition of further titles[edit]

In July 2011, it was announced that Northcliffe Media intended to sell nine of its titles to the KM Group. The newspapers involved include the Dover Express, East Kent Gazette, Folkestone Herald, Herne Bay and Whitstable Times, Isle of Thanet Gazette, Medway News and Thanet Times. KM Group referred the matter of the acquisition of the titles to the Office of Fair Trading.[4]

The Office of Fair Trading then referred the newspaper deal to the Competition Commission, because of the possible monopoly it might create. This meant the cost of the deal and process of takeover would have increased.[5]

Due to this interest by the Office of Fair Trading and Competition Commission, the take-over of the papers was scrapped. Since then several local newspapers then closed including the Medway News and Isle of Thanet Gazette.[6]

Newspapers[edit]

[edit]

The KM Group operates a number of weekly newspapers for different parts of Kent which have been acquired over the years.

Apart from the Medway Messenger, which is published twice-weekly on Monday and Friday, and the Kent Messenger which is published on Friday the other KM paid-for titles are released on Thursdays.

Also published is Kent Business, a monthly publication which has been going since 1993.

Free newspapers[edit]

In 1981[7] KM Group launched its Extra series, beginning with the Thanet Extra.[8] There are now 7 Extra newspapers around the county which are mostly distributed through letterboxes and are also published online.

The Extra papers are usually published on Wednesdays.

Radio[edit]

Main article: KMFM (radio network)

The KM Group owns and operates seven commercial radio stations in Kent. Six of them were previously independent stations, acquired by the Group between 1999 and 2006 and collectively rebranded KMFM. The programming is networked across the stations, however, there is also unique content on each station including; what's on, local advertisements and sponsorship and when relevant other content e.g. traffic reports and school closures.

The Group also operated a DAB station, KMFM Extra, which was replaced on DAB by the countywide KMFM in June 2012.

Internet[edit]

KM Group's main consumer website is KentOnline.co.uk, launched in 1998.[1] The website offers local news, travel, jobs, motors, holidays and other features. In 2008 there were 9 local sites launched to complement the service. A tenth local site, sittingbournemessenger.co.uk was launched in June 2009.

Other media[edit]

KM Group also operates Headline Travel and supports charities such as the Kent & Medway Walking Bus.

Offices[edit]

KM Group has offices in Ashford, Cliftonville, Deal, Gravesend, Larkfield, Maidstone, Sheerness, Strood and Whitstable.[9] It previously had offices in Dover, Faversham, Sittingbourne and Tunbridge Wells (which were closed in 2008);[2] Folkestone (which closed in April 2009); Canterbury, which moved to Whitstable in 2008 after outgrowing the Canterbury building; and London which closed in 2011.

References[edit]

External links[edit]