Monday 18 July 2011

The 15 regional dailies that may have to go weekly

Former Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson (left) has written an article for InPublishing magazine in which he identifies 15 small circulation regional dailies which he claims may go weekly.

It follows the decision by Northcliffe to turn two of its dailies, the Scunthorpe Telegraph and Torquay Herald Express weekly, and speculation that other of its newspapers may also be changing publication frequency.

In his article, Dyson states: "Northcliffe is not alone: one editor of a small northern daily, who must remain nameless, told me that newsprint price rises pushed the business right to the edge of making the ‘weekly decision’ for 2011. 'It’s only a matter of time because otherwise we will literally lose money,' he said.

"And the managing director of an independent publisher – whom I also agreed not to name – told me: '12,000 sales is the profit-and-loss precipice for dailies, and we think we’ve got a few years to go before we reach that. But we’re already looking at the option because we’re in the teens and once we hit 12,000, will make no money as a daily.'

"Several newspapers are already at or near that 12,000 figure, but as the Torquay Express, which sold 21,000+ as a daily shows, publishers may decide to make the conversion early while they still have some critical mass.

"Tipping points will obviously depend on specific marketplaces and economies of scale, but the weekly option is certainly staring the 15 smallest daily papers in Britain in the face."

Dyson son lists the regional dailies arguably facing the weekly option as: The Scarborough Evening News (published by Johnston Press) – ABC April 2011: 11,462; Burton Mail (Iliffe) - 12,472; Worcester News (Newsquest) - 14,616; North West Evening Mail, Barrow (CN Group) - 14,772; Hartlepool Mail (Johnston Press) - 14,853; Oldham Evening Chronicle (Hirst Kidd and Rennie) - 15,273; Shields Gazette (Johnston) - 15,286; Evening Star, Ipswich (Archant) - 15,408; Peterborough Evening Telegraph (Johnston) - 15,506; Scunthorpe Telegraph (Northcliffe) - 16,084; Halifax Evening Courier (Johnston) - 16,351; Gloucestershire Echo (Northcliffe) - 16,380; Northampton Chronicle & Echo (Johnston) - 16,678; Express & Echo, Exeter (Northcliffe) - 17,102; Evening Gazette, Colchester (Newsquest) - 17,186.

Dyson adds: "The Liverpool Daily Post (Trinity Mirror) only sells 8,868, but has a much bigger sister in the Daily Post (Wales) which complicates its future strategy.

"In Scotland, the Paisley Daily Express (Trinity Mirror), selling 7,726, and the Greenock Telegraph (Clyde & Forth Press), selling 14,720, might also be seen as ripe for weekly conversion, although the local marketplace and low paginations provide different business models. The same can be said for the Guernsey Press & Star (Claverley Group), selling 15,232.


Old Regional Press Hand said...

This is taking fantastical speculation about the future of the regional press to new heights of absurdity. To quote an anonymous source as saying that a 12k circulation is the cut-off point for daily-to-weekly and then list all the titles at or near that level of circulation as being at risk of making the switch is sloppy journalism to say the least.

Steve Dyson said...

Hardly absurd, ORPH. Rather informed speculation. Since filing the article, one of the dailies on the list has also announced conversion (Scunthorpe) and another just 'above' the list is reported to be about to (Lincolnshire, c.17,500 sales). The point of the article is to shine a light on what has happened, what is happening now and what many other titles may face.