World’s Largest Print Plant Opens in England

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The world’s largest printing plant has begun cranking out newspapers for Rupert Murdoch’s News International ? a vote of confidence in Britain’s troubled newspaper industry.

In Broxbourne, 20 miles north of London, the plant will print the company’s four British papers, including the racy Sun and News of the World and the more sober Times and Sunday Times.

The plant, to be fully operational by the end of April, represents the final phase in a $1.3 billion investment in three state-of-the-art printing plants by the News Corp. subsidiary.

On a site big enough to house 23 soccer fields, it houses 12 presses capable of producing more than 1 million full-color newspapers per hour. That capacity makes it the largest in the world, said News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop.

“Our investment should be ample answer to those who believe the business of journalism, in print, is a business for yesterday’s readers, not tomorrow’s,” said James Murdoch, chairman of News Corp. Europe and Asia. “We believe that print will continue to be a driving force in our business, even as we expand and grow in this connected age.”

Dunlop said the Sun and News of the World started printing at the new plant in January, and the other two papers are moving there now. The new facilities mark the demise of the company’s printing operations in Wapping in East London, where unionists clashed with police during the 1980s as jobs were eliminated.

The three new plants, including ones located in Glasgow in Scotland and Knowsley in northwest England, use 19 MAN Roland presses from Germany. The speed of the new machines will allow the company’s newspapers to use later deadlines, she said.

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