As Hinton reveals plans for Times TV, he insists digital future is bright

News International chairman Les Hinton has issued a tub-thumping
case for the future of a newspaper company in the digital age and
revealed plans for The Times to launch a broadband service called Times
TV.

Speaking at the World Newspapers Congress in Moscow, Hinton
said: "I know that whatever we do in the future, people – readers,
viewers, users, whoever – will recognise quality and gravitate towards
it. Mad and scurrilous blogs will be taken for what they often are,
another form of entertainment."

He said: "Bill Gates himself says
that he believes people will still be reading newspapers in 50 years
time. And so do I. "The printed word will long remain a powerful form
of social expression. The media – with the press riding shot-gun –
should always be there to hold our rulers to account. "This faith in
the future is not just whistling in the wind. Quite apart from
launching a print version of the Times in the US (where we already have
millions of online users) NewsCorp is making record investments in new
presses in the UK to be phased in over the next three years – a pretty
positive endorsement of the medium. And we are not alone: collectively
newspapers in the UK are investing around one and a half million
dollars in new press and production.

"Why? Well I know why we're
doing it. Because we believe that to continue to be a profitable
business, we must innovate and develop new opportunities for readers
and advertisers, in print as well as online. For instance, if it'sIf
more colour they want, it's more colour they will have. These
state-of-the-art presses also offer far greater editorial opportunities
and enormously enhanced productivity."

Hinton said that News
Corps' presses with have the advantage over the hardware of their
competitors by virtue of "scale and speed".

He said: "Over the
next few years we will be producing twenty million newspapers a week;
the presses will run three times faster than our current rate with
colour on every page."

He added: "I know that the movement of
advertising away from traditional forms of media continues at a pace.
But to leap from here to exclaiming the end of press advertising –
which the pundits are starting to do – makes no sense at all. "Not when
the UK national newspapers alone are attracting nearly £1.8 billion
annually.

"Research shows a doubling of brand commitment when
newspapers are added to a TV schedule. And that the brands most often
recommended to a friend, or searched for online, or asked for at
retailers, are those that are most heavily advertised. Anywhere."

He
said: "We are a nation of just over 47 million adults. There are 2022 +
national daily and Sunday newspapers and 1500 1200 regional and local
newspapers; 12 thousands of magazines, literally hundreds of TV
channels and proliferating cinema outlets, and a billion or more global
websites. And as you can see, the growth has been phenomenal.

Given
this extraordinary explosion of options, this fight for attention, it
is frankly amazing that the ink-on-paper option has lost so little. "I
could put it down to a lot of improvements in our business methods, but
in reality it comes down to our investment in editorial, in people and
in quality.

And anyway, I think reading newspapers makes people more interesting. Perhaps that's a slogan we should adopt…"

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