attacks press 'monopoly'

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Stephen Mason, head of, a Tunbridge Wells-based firm offering investment banking jobs over the internet, has instructed a firm of local lawyers to challenge what he calls 'restrictive and monopolistic' practices among the UK's quality press.

He is pursuing the action after several leading newspapers refused to carry advertisements publicising the launch of his new venture earlier this year.

Advertising executives at the Evening Standard, The Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Telegraph, The Times and The Sunday Times each told the headhunter they would not carry ads for website recruitment firms.

The Financial Times, which charges up to 62,000 for a full-page colour advert, banned the campaign outright. It said in a letter that it would allow the firm to put its website address on advertisements for individual vacancies. The paper said the policy, which was made at board level, was continually under review, but unlikely to change this year.

The Sunday Times, which charges up to 83,700 to advertise in its pages, also declined to accept the campaign.

A business development officer at the Guardian told the company it would not be prepared to carry advertising which publicised any recruitment site other than its own.

Mason last week launched a scathing attack on the ban.

'We fully intend to challenge the 'luddite' attitude of the press barons through the courts. We aim to break the dictatorial stranglehold they have on the market and force them to change their business strategy - especially their revenue streams.'

Newspapers currently generate tens of millions of pounds a year through their jobs pages.

However, these revenues are expected to plunge by more than 80% as recruitment firms advertise their wares direct over the internet.

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