Can Lite lure lost evening readers?

Standard Lite is the latest – and boldest – in a series of circulation-boosting ploys attempted by concerned evening newspaper editors.

No matter what they do, nothing seems to stop the decline in sales.

In the latest round of six-month ABC results, just seven out of the UK’s 80-odd evening papers recorded small year-on-year increases.

The rest were all down and for some – such as The Belfast Telegraph and the Yorkshire Evening Post – the decline was more than 10 per cent.

The worst of the drops have been attributed to stripping out bulk sales, but the figures still make grim reading.

The broadsheet Belfast Telegraph has responded by revealing plans to launch a paid-for tabloid morning edition, which is expected to come out in February.

At the Manchester Evening News the launch of an overnight morning edition of the paper appears to have stopped the rot. It is available at the same time as the national papers and was launched in November.

So far, the MEN claims it has turned a 6.4 per cent year-on-year decline in sales into a similar-sized growth figure.

The Evening Argus in Brighton tried to stem the decline in sales by dumping much community news and urging its journalists to write stories targeted at up market young professional readers. Its year-on-year sales loss has increased from 5.8 per cent to seven per cent at the last count.

However, Standard Lite may not be a circulation-boosting tool at all but merely be aimed as a blocker to Richard Desmond’s long-threatened free London evening paper.

Desmond is still awaiting the outcome of an Office of Fair Trading inquiry into whether

By Dominic Ponsford

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