DVDs and gremlins hit Guardian revival

By Dominic
Ponsford Big promotional spending at The Times appears to have
smothered sales growth at the fledgling Berliner-sized Guardian during
October.

Following its 12 September relaunch, The Guardian’s
first full month as the UK’s first full-colour and Berliner format
national saw sales 6.57 per cent up year-on-year, but 0.22 per cent
down month-on-month.

Its October sale was also hindered by
production problems with inserting machinery, which are understood to
have created significant headaches on two editions – one of which was a
Saturday.

Problems aside, Guardian insiders say they are happy
with a base sale figure, excluding bulks, up 9.97 per cent yearon-
year, and believe that once the fog of war, in terms of extraordinary
promotional spending from rivals, has cleared, a truer reflection of
the new-look paper’s success will emerge in February.

Two DVDs
and a cookbook offer helped to boost sales of The Times by 7.16 per
cent year-on-year to 703,492, giving it the best sale of any national
daily – an impressive figure considering that it is now two years since
The Times launched a tabloid version.

Editor Robert Thomson said:
“The October sales figures show how fundamentally the British newspaper
market has changed over the past two years.

“These are monumental
changes in the market. The shape of the modern newspaper and of the
modern newspaper market have changed permanently.

“There is an
important role for the newspaper in contemporary society, but it must
reflect the needs and the reality of that society. Integrity and
objectivity are the characteristics of Times journalism, whether in
print or online, and they remain in great demand.”

The
Independent showed it has also weathered the storm from the Berliner
launch with a 0.4 per cent year-on-year increase to its biggest sale
for more than eight years.

Overall, the national quality newspaper market grew by 1.53 per cent.

Journalists
at The Independent on Sunday also have cause for celebration following
a successful relaunch in tabloid format on 16 October.

The IoS enjoyed the best circulation increase of any title, Sunday or daily, up 7.34 per cent year-on-year to 230,053.

Trinity
Mirror’s nationals could be facing some slim months in circulation
terms after chief executive Sly Bailey’s decision last month to axe
marketing budgets.

The Daily Mirror’s rate of circulation decline
is half what it was suffering six months ago, but the drop of 4.84 per
cent year-on-year is still three times that of arch-rival The Sun.

The
company’s two Sunday titles dropped at an even steeper rate in October,
with the Sunday Mirror down 10.99 per cent and The People down 9.92 per
cent year-on-year.

Plummeting year-on-year figures at Express
Newspapers mainly reflect a reduction in giveaway bulk copies since a
year ago. But even when bulks are discounted, the Daily Express was
down 4.85 per cent year-on-year and the Sunday Express down 5.47 per
cent.

The Mail on Sunday’s replacement of its listing supplement
Night & Day with glossy lads’ mag Live, filled with celebrities and
gadgets, has done little for its circulation, which fell 5.97 per cent
year-on-year to 2,292,258.

The title also spent heavily on TV promotions and two DVD giveaways in October.

In
a red-top Sunday market that declined 5.12 per cent year-on-year in
October, the News of the World managed a small year-on-year rise.

According
to the NoW, this performance means the sales gap between it and the
combined Sunday Mirror/People sale is now the largest ever at 1,410,419
copies. It has also outstripped the combined circulation of the Mirror,
People, Sunday Express and Daily Star Sunday for the second month
running.

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