The Guardian made a loss of more than £180m last year as digital growth went into reverse and the a tough print market took a further turn for the worse.
A tumultuous year for the left-leaning title ended in a pre-tax loss of £173m, its accounts show. After tax the Guardian plunged £180.3m into the red, nearly 18 times its losses in the prior year.
The largest single contributor to the red ink was a write-down on its stake in Ascential, the business publisher and events company it invested in alongside the private equity giant Apax Partners. Ascential floated on the Stock Exchange earlier this year, crystallising the fall in the value of the business since the Guardian bought in, in 2007.
The Guardian itself recorded an operating loss, including exceptional items, of £100.4m, up from £48.2m in 2015. The bottom line reflected a 4pc decline in total sales to £209.5m and an increase in operating costs of nearly £40m.
Within the dip in turnover, digital advertising sales fell by 3pc to £79.6m. That came despite heavy investment in editorial and advertising sales expansion in the US and Australia, and regardless of an increase in traffic of more than a third over the year.
The Guardian has pointed to the increasing dominance of Google and Facebook in the online advertising market as a serious challenge to its efforts to replace print revenues.