Bromley Times turns free to attract readers

By Sarah Lagan

One
of the oldest paid-for titles in southeast London, The Bromley Times,
is the latest Archant London title to convert from a paid-for to a
free, following a 21 per cent drop in circulation in the last set of
ABCs.

It will replace the existing free paper in the area The
Bromley Express, but there will be no redundancies as a result of the
closure. The weekly Times, founded in the 19th century, has also had a
radical up-market relaunch. It will still be available as a paid-for
priced 50p at some outlets.

Many London paid-for newspapers have
been struggling in terms of circulation, and Archant London managing
director Enzo Testa’s plan since joining the division has been to turn
some of the worst-hit titles to a mix of paid-fors and frees to reach a
wider audience.

The Bromley Times’s circulation was down to 2,466
and the paper will now go out to 80,000 homes across the area including
Beckenham, Chiselhurst, Orpington and Biggin Hill. The population of
Bromley is 296,000.

Testa told Press Gazette: “We are not
reaching the market and that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.
There’s no point in my guys doing a fantastic job and then a few
thousand people buy the paper.

“That particular market place has
changed and the existing titles are predominantly free. This way we
reach more people and saturate the Bromley market and also have it
available for paid-for.”

As part of the relaunch there will be
more news, business and snippets about travel in the city for
commuters, as well as a sports section covering local teams and top
London clubs such as Crystal Palace and Millwall. The arts and
entertainments magazine Times Out also has a new look and the editorial
tone has changed with the intention of attracting a more up-market
readership.

Kentish Times Newspapers’ group editor, Melody Ryall,
said: “We want the Bromley Times to be more issue led with more
comment, opinions and an expanded letters pages. We still have 14 or 15
pages of hard news at the front dispersed with the odd column.”

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