LONDON — Print editions of The Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers will cease publication next month and go wholly digital, according to their publisher ESI Media. It marks the first time a U.K. national paper has made such a move.

The Independent on Sunday’s last print edition is expected on March 20. The Independent’s will be on March 26.

“The unique editorial proposition of The Independent is perfectly suited to the global digital landscape,” said Steve Auckland, group chief executive officer of ESI Media. “Following this decisive move to digital, we will be as focused and uncompromised as any start-up, but with all the authority and trust of an established news brand — a truly unique proposition. We now have a clear and secure future path for our businesses. It’s also a further opportunity for our advertisers to capitalize on our growing, smart, affluent and digitally savvy audience.”

The newspaper’s Web site’s monthly audience rose 33.3 percent in the last year to 70 million unique users globally.

The company employs 150 full-time staffers and will face redundancies, but said it will create 25 new digital content roles.

ESI Media plans to launch a new subscription mobile application and expects to open new editorial desks in Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well as to expand in the U.S.

The company also confirmed that it will sell The Independent to Johnston Press, pending shareholder approval.

“The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers,” said Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Independent. “They’re showing us that the future is digital.

“This decision preserves the Independent brand and allows us to continue to invest in the high-quality editorial content that is attracting more and more readers to our online platforms,” he continued. “The Independent has always been a pioneering newspaper with a track record of innovation. It has a proud heritage as Britain’s first truly independent national quality title. My family bought and invested heavily in The Independent because we believe in world-class quality journalism, and this move secures the future of these vitally important editorial values.”

The Independent and Independent on Sunday were launched in 1986.

The London Evening Standard is to remain within ESI Media’s portfolio.

 

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