Daily Mail & General Trust has appointed Kevin Beatty, managing director of its regional press group Northcliffe Newspapers, to replace Associated Newspapers managing director Murdoch MacLennan.
MacLennan, who had been with Associated for ten years, was poached at the weekend by the Telegraph Group to become its chief executive.
Beatty’s appointment has been greeted with astonishment by media observers, many of whom had expected long-serving Daily Mail managing director Guy Zitter to be in the frame for the job. Zitter was recently given the additional title of Associated Newspapers commercial director (MW July 8). Insiders expected he might have been given a trial run at the managing director’s job, without holding the title formally.
However, one former Associated executive says Beatty’s appointment is a shrewd move by the DMGT board, because Beatty is “neutral” and the move sends out a message to different camps at Associated Newspapers to stop “politicking and manoeuvring”. Observers identify an “old school” at Associated, centred on Zitter and editor-in-chief Paul Dacre, and a camp formed around newer executives such as Evening Standard managing director Mike Anderson and Mail on Sunday managing director Stephen Miron. Both Miron and Anderson will report to Beatty. Beatty is a former managing director of The Mail on Sunday and the Evening Standard and helped to launch Metro in 1999.
Beatty faces challenges such as restoring ad revenues and circulation at the Evening Standard and seeing off any potential rival to Metro. Express Newspapers is still awaiting a ruling from the Office of Fair Trading as to whether Associated’s distribution agreement with London Underground is exclusive.