Associated planning daily Irish newspaper

IoS: paving the way for daily title

Speculation is growing that Associated Newspaper is considering the launch in Ireland of a new mid-market daily either later this year or next, building on the sales success of Ireland on Sunday.

The speculation has been fuelled by the acquisition by Associated Newspapers Ireland of premises in Ballsbridge, Dublin, and the installation of new equipment.

Since the acquisition of Ireland on Sunday, in the period from November 2001 to September 2002, the circulation of the title has grown from 30,000 to 160,000.

On the financial front, recently disclosed accounts show that the company had a turnover of E3.5m (£2.4m) during the period but the cost of sales was E6.8m.

Free items, particularly CDs, were often a feature of the Sunday sales. With administrative expenses of E11.3m, a pre-tax loss of E14.6m was recorded for the period to September 2002.

No tax was paid during the period because of the losses incurred.

In another development, Associated has responded to an admission by Independent News and Media, publisher of The Irish Independent, that the explanations it had been providing for its level of bulk sales were incorrect.

According to ABC figures for the second half of 2002, The Irish Independent had bulk sales of 14,500 per issue, The Sunday Independent, 25,700 and the Evening Herald, 11,000.

The two newspaper groups have been at loggerheads for the past year over issues relating to circulation. Associated has now commented: “After weeks of desperate wriggling, Independent News and Media has finally admitted it had been misleading advertisers about the size of its paid-for circulation.”

Once Ireland on Sunday had pointed out the practice, the statement went on, the Independent “started pumping out propaganda that would have made Baghdad blush”.

Associated has now called on the Independent group to state where its bulk sales are ending up, citing a primary school in Dublin where it said “baffled pupils” were trying to get rid of dozens of copies of The Irish Independent which had been dumped at the school.

By Des Cryan in Dublin

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