The Daily Mail was one of a handful of newspapers the train operator sold in its on-board shop and gave away to first class passengers. A spokesperson for Virgin Trains said it regularly reviewed products sold onboard, adding that “after listening to feedback from our people” it decided to stop stocking copies of the paper.
The company stated in an internal memo, that it would stop stocking the newspaper, one of the reasons the company gave is that its employees had raised concerns “about the Mail’s editorial position on issues such as immigration, LGBT rights and unemployment”.
A spokesperson for the Daily Mail said: “It is disgraceful that, at a time of massive customer dissatisfaction over ever-increasing rail fares, and after the taxpayer was forced to bail out Virgin’s East Coast mainline franchise – a decision strongly criticised by the Mail – that Virgin Trains should now announce that for political reasons it is censoring the choice of newspapers it offers to passengers.
“For the record, Virgin used to sell only 70 Daily Mails a day. They informed us last November that to save space, they were restricting sales to just three newspapers: the Mirror, FT and Times. They gave no other reason, but it may be no coincidence that all those titles, like Virgin owner Sir Richard Branson, are pro-remain.”
The internal memo from Virgin Trains was first reported by the trade magazine PR Week. The memo said: “Different viewpoints are often valuable, and it’s certainly true that we choose to take our news from different sources depending on our view of the world.
“Thousands of people choose to read the Daily Mail every day. But they will no longer be reading it courtesy of VT [Virgin Trains].
“There’s been considerable concern raised by colleagues about the Mail’s editorial position on issues such as immigration, LGBT rights, and unemployment. We’ve decided that this paper is not compatible with the VT brand and our beliefs. We won’t be stocking the Daily Mail for sale or as a giveaway.”
We have covered some of this in our brand or blackmail post as mentioned above, but it does seem a lot of fuss over 70 newspaper sales. I imagine it’s more about the fact that a big business has come out specifically stating they are uncomfortable with the editorial line and therefore do not wish to be associated with the paper.
It is important to note that they also do not sell the Guardian whch is arguably the newspaper which is the left wing equivalent of the Times, so the implication there is it’s not a simple left or right argument. 70 newspapers is not a lot to sell so despite this being framed as a moral argument I do wonder if the same line would have been taken if it sold tens of thousands of copies. Channel 4 did an interesing debate and I feel that the comment by Dawn Foster is spot on which is that if some of the staff and customers are made uncomfortable with their editorial line and they’re only selling 70 copies then it seems an easy way to placate those who are uncomfortable.
I think it is also important to note that they told the Mail this in November and it didn’t seem to bother the Mail too much then as they accepted that low sales were an issue, it is only after Virgin stated that there was possibly also due to the editorial issues that they have taken exception.