The Daily Times of Nigeria PLC was incorporated in Nigeria on 6th June 1925 as the Nigerian Printing & Publishing Company Limited by the quartet of Messrs. V. R. Osborne, L. A. Archer, R. Burrow and Adeyemo Alakija. The company started printing on June 1, 1926 with the publication title, ‘The Nigerian Daily Times’. The principal business for which the company was established - ‘to carry on business as printers and publishers, advertising agents and newsvendors of a Newspaper to be called The Nigerian Daily Times, and any other newspapers, periodicals and journals’.
By a special resolution of the shareholders dated May 30, 1963, the name of the company was changed to The Daily Times of Nigeria Limited (“DTN”).
The organisation is Nigeria’s premier newspaper company and one of the earliest to be established in the African continent.
In June 1963, DTN became a public company with its shares listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Between 1925 and 1947, the ownership of DTN changed hands severally including the acquisition in 1935 by Mr. R. B. Paul, a Liverpool businessman, and that of Daily Mirror Group (DMG) in 1947. In 1963, the gradual transfer of ownership of DTN to Nigerians commenced and by March 31 1974, following the promulgation of the Nigerian Enterprises Promotion Decree, DTN became a wholly owned Nigerian company.
On September 1, 1975, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Insurance Corporation of Nigeria (NICON) acquired sixty percent (60%) equity holding of DTN.
By the 70s, DTN had become household name and a toast of the Nigerian public. It dominated the Nigerian Publishing industry with its newspapers and publications circulating in all major cities and towns in the country including neighbouring West African countries of Ghana and Cameroun. It also had offices in London, New York and East Africa.
At peak performance, the newspapers and publications produced by the company included ‘Daily Times’, ‘Sunday Times’, ‘Lagos Weekend’, ‘Sporting Times’, ‘Business Times’, ‘Times Homes Studies’, ‘Times Review’, ‘Times Digest’ and ‘Headlines’.
It is on record that DTN is the only Nigerian newspaper to attain a 500,000 copy circulation with one title. The Daily Times had emerged a colossus.
It was at the peak of its success and magnificence that the Federal Government in 1977, took over total ownership and control of the company. Though the company prospered, posting high and superior returns, it would soon go the way of government enterprises with overbearing political pressures, financial impropriety and recklessness characterising its operations. Public perception began to shift towards the negative, resulting in declining business and fortunes. The company was loosing grip of the market, its glory was fast fading and Government would have no option but to sell.
In 2004, the Bureau of Public Enterprises in line with the resolve of the Obasanjo administration to shed the weight of non-performing Parastatals and agencies by privatising them, slated The Daily Times of Nigeria Plc for privatisation.
In an exercise that proved to be the most successful sale by the BPE, Folio Communications Limited emerged the highest bidder and consequently won to acquire 96.5% controlling shares of the Daily Times. The winning bid price was N1, 250,000,000.00 (One Billion, Two Hundred & Fifty Million Naira Only).
Thus Folio Communications became the Core and Strategic Investor of The Daily Times of Nigeria Limited.
Having fulfilled all conditions for the acquisition of Daily Timesas core investor, Folio Communications promptly began technical and management re-engineering and the refocusing of The Daily Times to meet the enormous demands and challenges of newspapering in the 21st century to strategically Re-brand, Reposition and ensure successful market re-entry for the Daily Times’ publications. These measures were to bring about a steady revitalization of its household known titles i.e. Daily Times, Business Times, Sunday Times, Lagos Weekend, etc.
In spite of the initial distractions and disruption arising mainly from commercial disagreements among the stakeholders, Folio Communications, with the support of The Bureau of Public Enterprises, accelerated the turnaround of The Daily Times, with trial publishing which commenced in November 2006.
A framework for instituting the required infrastructure and processes to bring the newspaper giant back on the street to the delight of its numerous readers was developed and initial capital was invested to see it through. State-of-the-art plant and printing equipment were procured with huge sums and capital developed by Folio Communications, amounting to hundreds of millions of Naira.
The vision was to drive unmatched editorial/reportorial content with superior print quality and at its peak; Daily Times would do an estimated circulation of 1,000,000 copies daily, predicated on a pass-on rate of 10 to 1 per paper. This will give a reach of 10,000,000 individuals making it the most widely read publication in sub-saharan Africa.
Re-launch of The Daily Times
Research has shown that the print news is an endangered product. Poor reading culture, illiteracy and poverty are some of the reasons for dwindling newspaper circulation in an industry where return on investment (ROI) is in the range of ten years. Advertisers have also become more prudent in patronising newspapers, insisting on value for money as we have seen significant reduction in advertising budgets for print in favour of other media, particularly the online platform.
Nigeria is currently experiencing a boost in ICT services, resulting in increased awareness and a huge potential in online revenue. Existing data for Internet usage in Nigeria puts the figure at about 40 million Internet users, with social media attracting over 70% of the traffic on the web. For the news market, an industry challenged to seek new revenue sources, the online platform has become the new wave.
The Daily Times is taking advantage of the trend to refocus in a disruptive-innovative manner in its bid to re-enter the market.
On March 1, 2011, we launch the Daily Times Digital news. Besides our investment in ICT infrastructure, we have assembled a team of advisers, project management and technical staff with local and international experience. This effort and the consequent activities, is the first step and our strategic plan to re-enter the market and rebuild The Daily Times as a sustainable enterprise. The online news platform promises to be a litmus-test for the very crucial plans that have been developed to stage the Daily Times comeback and should become for the industry, the standard for online news.
For the print news business, Folio through collaborations with international partners have completed a re-branding project plan for the flagship brand The Daily Times, with awe-inspiring editorial and design templates, ready to go to the market. We will continue in our effort to secure our printing equipment currently hijacked in the commercial struggle, to be able and in the nearest future bring back the publication.
It is not in doubt that the ill-informed and protracted commercial disagreement is the valid reason for the non performance of the newspaper giant since its privatisation, however, our commitment and determination towards our responsibility as core and strategic investors have not waned.
Folio Communications Limited is not deterred by these challenges and will continue to pursue the course to retain the Daily Times brand as a privately owned company with diversified operations though with a strong bent for newspapering.
We have endured these challenges largely to uphold the legitimate mandate bestowed on us and will remain unwavering until the needful is achieved.