25 OCTOBER 1975, Page 3

Fleet Street optimism

Sir: I refer to the comment in Robert Ashley's column in the current issue of The Spectator in which he says I am "as optimistic as old boots" about the future of Fleet Street, and that I may be right as far as the Sun and the Daily Mirror are concerned, but surely wrong as far as the rest of the national press is concerned.

I make no apology for my optimism. Never in the recent history of Fleet Street has there been such a realisation of the urgent need to put things right as has been voiced by union leaders in the last couple of weeks. We have about six months, in my view, to grasp this nettle (or is it an olive branch?) being offered to Fleet Street management. I firmly believe there is no need for any Fleet Street newspaper to close. What is needed is for each individual management to face up to the problems, not run away from them. Good Management — and that means good Planning, realistic approaches to the unions, a new approach to revenue Possibilities and an end to some of the Profligacy of the past — and not ACAS or the Press Commission, will solve the current problems. But, bearing in mind the history of the Newspaper Publishers Association, a third party may have to intervene.

Percy Roberts Chief Executive, Mirror Group Newspapers, Holborn Circus, London ECI