Head of digital for the Guardian Media Group Simon Waldman hits back with both barrels today at John Duncan and his assertion in a previous issue of Press Gazette that online teams have ‘conned’ unsuspecting newspaper boards into making investments in online publishing.

Here are some key quotes from his piece in today’s Press Gazette:

“The current forecasts for growth in the UK market indicate that, on average, digital spending in the UK will grow from a £2bn market to approximately £4bn over the next two years. In other words, there is likely to be some £2bn of new money coming online. But isn’t much of this going to search engines (particularly, Google)? Well, even if 50 per cent of it is, that still leaves £1bn of new money left for us to fight for….”

“…Last month PricewaterhouseCoopers forecast that we will move from 50 per cent of households having broadband this year to 80 per cent by 2011. All the evidence shows that the longer people have a connection, the more time they spend doing things online. So internet use in the UK is set to grow for many years yet…”

Waldman’s conclusion is that while “print has many healthy decades ahead.. those will be about gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, decline.” Waldman has also been blogging recently about whether the Dialy Express will simply close as a result of the change in the media landscape.

The online world, meanwhile, “offers smart media owners potential for growth – in reach, reputation and revenue. That’s not a con. It’s a fact. And it’s time to learn to deal with it.”