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‘A love affair: supermarkets and newspapers’

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This is an official announcement: advertising has no influence on the tone of newspaper coverage.

An unofficial announcement: of course it does, especially when it comes to supermarkets, which have been vital to newspaper finances for decades.

That’s partly why you read so many stories about supermarket “prices wars” even if the reality amounts to little more than 5p off avocados. In Norwich.

A few years back, an editor furious that a major supermarket had slashed ad spending at his paper called me in for a chat.

He didn’t explicitly tell me he hated this company and wanted me to slag it off. He implicitly told me.

And asked how many words of vitriol I could file by 7pm, with the promise that he’d run all of them.

And so to the mega merger of Asda and Sainsbury’s.

The cut back in ad spending by the big grocers might mean this deal gets a rockier ride than it would have done before.

So expect to see lots of big, expensive adverts extolling the virtues of this deal as the supermarkets ramp up ads.

And a similar number of opinion pieces agreeing that, on balance, it should probably get the nod from the competition authorities.

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